BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - The December unemployment situation features good news, but not everything in the report is good.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported the statewide jobless rate was down slightly in December from 6.8 percent in November to 6.7 percent last month. That marks the lowest unemployment rate in Ohio for more than four years.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett claimed that the state's falling unemployment rate is a direct result of Gov. John Kasich's policies, Republicans in the legislature, and other Republicans in statewide offices.

"Unemployment is falling in Ohio because more Ohioans are creating jobs," Bennett declared. "Ohio is finally open for ideas thanks to our Republican leaders who are making wise decisions and enacting bright new policies, but we still have a lot of work to do to keep Ohio's momentum moving forward."

In all, ODJFS reported the number of unemployed worker in the Buckeye State was down to 388,000 - 3,000 fewer than the previous month. However, the number of persons working fell also - by 9,400 - during that same time period. Ohio's nonfarm wage and salary employment decreased from the revised 5,194,400 in November to 5,185,000 in December, according to the latest business establishment survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On the good side, the number of unemployed has decreased by 70,000 in the past 12 months, however there is no real indication how many of those persons became employed and how many simply dropped out of the job market. The number of working Ohioans did increase by 90,700 during the year.

The big losses in the job market were in service industries, especially leisure and hospitality where 4,900 jobs were dropped. Another 2,100 government jobs and 1,300 financial service jobs were lost in December as well. The state managed to increase manufacturing jobs by 900 over the course of the month.

Over the past year, 6,100 manufacturing jobs were added, while 25,200 educational and health services positions, 16,800 trade, transportation and utilities, and 15,400 professional and business services positions were added.

ODJFS is scheduled to release county breakout unemployment reports on Tuesday. The November numbers had Van Wert County unemployment holding steady at 7.0 percent with 100 additional persons working during that month.