BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - For the third straight month, the unemployment rate for Van Wert County stands at 7.0 percent, according to estimates released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Around the area, there was little movement in county rates in December. Paulding County remained at 6.2 percent and Mercer County again had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.9 percent also last month.

Slight increases in jobless rates elsewhere in the surrounding region. Allen County saw it's unemployment rate bounce back to 7.0 percent in December after it had dipped to 6.7 percent in November. Putnam County also saw a three-tenths rise in December, with that rate hitting 5.4 percent. The rate in Auglaize County stepped from 4.7 to 4.8 percent last month.

There were unemployment increases across the state line as well. Numbers from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development shows the rate in Adams County (Indiana) rising from 7.4 percent in November to 7.7 percent in December. Allen County (Indiana) had a half-percent increase in December, up to 7.9 percent.

The Ohio unemployment rate fell only slightly to 6.7 percent in December. Indiana saw a two-tenths increase to 8.2 percent. The national rate was unchanged for December at 7.8 percent.

Specifics of the civilian labor force estimates for Van Wert County showed a drop of 200 employed workers and a corresponding drop of 200 persons in the labor force. The total work force fell to 14,000 with 13,000 employed and 1,000 unemployed.

The 2012 averages for Van Wert County were nearly identical to the December figures. The yearly average showed a labor force of 14,100 and a jobless rate of 7.4 percent. That rate is the lowest average in the county since 2007's average rate was 5.5 percent.

The year 2012 showed improvement in all categories in the county. The total workforce rose by 200, as did the number of employed workers while the number of unemployed fell by 200. The January 2012 unemployment rate was 9.0 percent compared to December's 7.0 percent.

The county's rate was right in the middle of Ohio's 88 counties. There were 44 counties reporting unemployment rates of 7.0 percent or more while the other half reported rates of 6.8 percent or lower.

The Ohio counties with the lowest rates in December were Mercer (3.9 percent), Holmes (4.2), Delaware (4.3), Auglaize (4.8), Union (5.1), Hancock (5.2), Franklin (5.4), and Putnam (5.4).

Counties with the highest unemployment rates last month were Pike County (12.3 percent), Adams (11.1), Morgan (11.1), Meigs (10.9), and Ottawa (10.9).