BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - Counties in Ohio saw a substantial jump in the unemployment rate in January, according to the latest civilian labor force estimates released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The results are being blamed mostly on holiday workers being laid off at the end of 2012, but there is still cause to keep an eye on the figures.

In Van Wert County, the results were typical of what happened across the state. The jobless rate jumped from December's 7.0 percent to 8.5 percent in January.

The increases were similar in surrounding counties. Paulding County's rate rose from 6.2 to 8.0 percent. In Putnam County, the rate jumped two percent, from 5.4 to 7.4 percent. Allen County saw an even greater jump, going from 7.0 to 9.1 percent. Auglaize County's rate jumped from 4.8 to 6.3 percent, and even the county with the lowest jobless figure in Ohio, Mercer County, saw it's rate rise from 3.9 percent to 5.3 percent.

The holiday workers theory cannot account for all of the unemployment rate rise. Van Wert County's labor force shrank by 200 people, according to the January estimates. In particular the number of unemployed workers stepped from 1,000 to 1,200 while the number of employed workers in the county dropped from 13,000 to 12,600.

Paulding County also saw 400 fewer workers and 200 more unemployed. In Mercer County, 600 fewer workers and 300 more unemployed were reported, according to the estimates.

Last Friday, ODJFS reported that the state unemployment rate jumped from 6.7 percent in December to 7.0 percent in January. The state figures are adjusted to account for seasonal differences while rates in county are not seasonally adjusted. The unadjusted Ohio rate for January was actually 8.4 percent.

Rates were up sharply in all 88 Ohio counties in January. In fact, many counties saw the jobless rate bounce back to near the January 2012 levels. In Van Wert County the unemployment rate was 9.0 percent in January 2012 as opposed to this year's 8.7 percent.

Mercer County remains as the county with the lowest rate in the state at 5.3 percent. The only other counties under 7.0 percent were Delaware (5.8), Holmes (6.0), Auglaize (6.3), Union (6.6), and Franklin (6.8).

On the other end of the spectrum, the county with the highest jobless rate again in January was Pike County. In December, the Pike County rate was 12.3 percent. The January 2013 figures put the rate in that county at 15.3 percent.

Three other Ohio counties saw their unemployment rates go over 14.0 percent: Morgan, Adams, and Meigs counties all were reported with a January rate of 14.4 percent. Right behind them were Ottawa (13.9), Huron (13.8), Vinton (13.6), and Monroe (13.1) counties.