Unemployment Rate Falls in December; Drop Tied to Population Changes, Not Economic Improvement

Gongwer News Service - January 21, 2005

The state’s unemployment rate fell 0.6% in December, but state officials said the decrease is best attributed to the volatility of data used to calculate the rate rather than improvements in Ohio’s economy.

The reduction to 5.9% came as non-farm wage and salary employment declined by 7,500 between November and December.

“Fluctuations in the unemployment rate over the past few months are primarily due to the volatility of Current Population Survey data that are used in the rate calculation, and not the result of significant changes in the state’s economy,” said Ohio Department of Job & Family Services Director Barbara Riley. “The December unemployment rate of 5.9% appears to better reflect the current economy that rates from the previous two months.”

DJFS said the number of workers unemployed in the state in December was 347,000, down from 380,000 in November. It said the number of unemployed Ohioans has decreased by about 19,000 over the previous 12 months.

Policy Matters Ohio pointed out that the department’s figures show that the state didn’t experience a net gain of jobs in 2004 and noted that current employment levels are lower than they have been since the 1990’s.

On a county-by-county basis, unemployment rates ranged from 2.8% in Holmes County to 18.4% in Morgan County. Ten other counties – Monroe, Meigs, Adams, Vinton, Perry, Huron, Coshocton, Pike, Ottawa and Hocking – had rates at or above 9%. Eight other counties – Delaware, Auglaize, Mercer, Shelby, Van Wert, Butler, Hancock and Warren -reported rates at or below 4%.

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