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Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
By Christine Henderson
Mercer County remains lowest in state even with 1.4 increase in unemployment
  Mercer County's unemployment rate jumped 1.4 percent in January from the previous month, but the county maintained its position of having the lowest rate in the state.
Mercer County's January rate was 5.3 percent, according to figures released today by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
The increase in unemployment from December to January is normal in Mercer County, though it is a higher percentage this year, said Ben Johnson, spokesman for the ODJFS. Previously, Mercer County unemployment went from 4.9 in December 2011 to 5.6 percent in January 2012, and the January 2011 rate went up 0.6 percent from the previous month.
County rates are not seasonally adjusted to show workers with holiday jobs leaving the labor market, Johnson explained.
Auglaize County had the fourth lowest unemployment rate in January, as it did in December. However, the January joblessness rose 1.5 percent to 6.3 percent.
Darke County unemployment went from 6 percent in December to 8.4 percent in January. Van Wert County went from 7 percent in December to 8.5 percent in January.
Besides holiday job losses, the entire state felt an impact from an increase in the labor force, Johnson said. The labor force counts employed people and those actively looking for work.
The Ohio unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in January, up by 1.8 percent. The national rate was 8.5 percent, up 0.9 percent from the previous month.
The increase in the number of people looking for work in January "is actually a positive thing," Johnson said. Unemployed people are exhibiting a renewed confidence in their ability to find work. The state added 11,000 people to the labor force in January.
It will take several months of statistics to determine if the labor force growth is a trend or January was unique, he noted. It has been years since Ohio's labor force has grown, he added.
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