Unemployment Plunges

ST. MARYS — After edging up slightly in October, unemployment numbers in Auglaize County fell by 1 percent in November.

In data released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Auglaize County’s unemployment rate settled in at 6.4 percent, down 1 percent from its October rate of 7.4 percent. A year ago, the unemployment rate for the county sat at 8.4 percent.

“Obviously it’s good for Auglaize County and the region,” St. Marys Development Manager Todd Fleagle said. “I think it’s the lowest since November 2008. We’re going in the right direction and I’m not sure if there is a whole lot of holiday hirings reflected in those but I am still hearing positive things from the companies in St. Marys, so I think in the future, the trend will continue.”

Much of the rest of the region followed Auglaize County’s lead. Mercer County settled in at 4.9 percent, down from 5.8 percent last month. That gave it the lowest rate in the state and the only county to be at less than 5 percent.

Fleagle touted the region’s diverse work force for the low numbers.

“We have a strong, diverse work force in Auglaize County and our region,” Fleagle said. “Our region is holding up well and I hope it continues. I see some positive things in the future as long as the markets hold and the federal government stays out of the way.”

Fleagle noted 2012 could be a big year for St. Marys.

“I think they are all cautiously optimistic,” Fleagle said of the manufacturing and industrial base. “You will probably see some industrial expansion in St. Marys in 2012 just as a reflection of the orders coming in the next two quarters. I think so others in the county will also be looking at expansion projects and that’s good not only for St. Marys and Auglaize County, but the region as a whole.”

Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council Director Greg Myers said the plunge in unemployment had more to do with job growth in the county’s industrial and manufacturing base than holiday sales.

“We don’t have all our employment in one sector,” Myers said.

“Those retail figures are usually spiked in metro markets where there are a lot of shopping malls. We are seeing manufacturers hiring people back to work and people are being employed and that’s a very good sign. It’s a sign that hopefully these jobs are here for the duration and not temporary jobs related to Christmas sales.”

Like Fleagle, Myers said he is optimistic 2012 could mean growth in the region.

“I think we are all optimistic by the number of inquiries we are receiving for projects,” Myers said. “We have responded to three projects in the last three weeks for greenfield sites for new plant construction. There also seems to be an uptick in auto sales and that translates to parts companies gearing up for production and that’s a good sign.”

For the rest of the region, Allen County is at 8.1 percent (down from 9.2 percent), Shelby County is at 7.7 percent (down from 8.7 percent), Van Wert County is at 8.2 percent (down from 9.1 percent), Logan County is at 7.8 percent (down from 8.8 percent), Hardin County is at 8 percent (down from 9.2 percent) and Darke County is at 7.6 percent (down from 8.4 percent).

Statewide, the unemployment rate sits at 8.5 percent.