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Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Mercer unemployment lowest in three years

County's joblessness lowest in the state at 4.9 percent

By Christine Henderson
Mercer County again has the state's best unemployment rate with a level not seen in nearly three years.
Data released today shows Mercer County had an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in November, nearly a full percent better than the previous month and far better than the state average of 7.6 percent. The last time Mercer's jobless rate was so low was October 2008.     No other county was under 5 percent in November, and the rates rose to 13.9 percent in Pike County.
Yearly unemployment rates for Mercer County averaged 8.7 percent in 2009 and 7.4 percent in 2010.
The county's business diversification is the reason for low unemployment, said Tim McCourtie, director of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' One Stop Employment and Training Network.
"Fortunately, there have been no major layoffs this year," he said.
Advanced, strong manufacturing and agriculture have much to do with the county's low unemployment rate, Mercer County Economic Development Director Jared Ebbing said.
"It is no coincidence that we are number one in agriculture and the lowest in unemployment," he said.
While actual farm labor is not included in unemployment figures, the county has many agricultural-related businesses, he noted.
Ebbing attributed the low unemployment "to our community."'
The people have jobs skills needed and a willingness and ability to work, he said. The small and medium businesses in the entire region are well run, he added. Village governments work with the businesses, and the schools attract residents.
Ebbing said seasonal work at retail businesses may have led to the drop from 5.8 percent unemployed in October to 4.9 percent in November.
In figuring the unemployment statistics, ODJFS looks at the number employed at least 15 hours a week and those receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
About 26 percent of the employed are usually working part time and looking for full time, but they are still counted as employed, McCourtie said.
"There is also the potential that a certain percent have exhausted unemployment and are no longer counted as unemployed," he added.
Depending on their eligibility, people currently may receive jobless benefits for 26 to 90 weeks.
Elsewhere in November, Auglaize County recorded 6.4 percent unemployment, compared with 7.4 percent in October; Darke County had 7.6 percent, down from 8.4; and Van Wert had 8.2 percent, down from 9.1.
The state unemployment average was 7.6 percent in November and 8.4 percent in October. Nationwide, the November rate was 8.2 percent and October was 8.5 percent.
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