County has second lowest unemployment rate

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Number one would be great but all things considered, the number two spot isn’t bad, either.

State officials Tuesday released December 2008 unemployment statistics for Ohio’s 88 counties and Lawrence County’s jobless rate is second best, right behind Delaware County.

Delaware posted a 5.1 percent jobless rate; Lawrence County’s was 5.3, which is better than the state as a whole (7.8 percent) and approximately half that of several other counties, including Meigs, Adams, Pike, Crawford, Wyandot and Ashtabula. Huron County had the highest rate among the 88, 13.5 percent.

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Lawrence County Commission President Jason Stephens pointed out these figures take into account the people laid off from AK Steel in Ashland, Ky.

While he acknowledged these figures are relative, he said he was nonetheless “pleased, but surprised” at how the county fared, given the difficulties statewide and nationally.

“The thing I am pleased with is that we are holding our own as compared with other counties,” Stephens said. “If you look back to 1982, 1983, we were at the other end of the list.”

He attributed Lawrence County’s jobless rate to a more diversified economy than the county had 25 or 30 years ago and to the county’s small businesses, many of which are thriving and are often better able to adapt and change with the economy than larger ones.

The state’s jobless rate jumped from 7.3 percent in November. Manufacturing and construction were at the top of the list of industries cutting jobs last month. According to information from the Ohio Department of Commerce, the natural resources and mining sectors of business were virtually unchanged. The service-providing industries cut 8,700 jobs during the month.

The U.S. jobless rate for December was 7.2 percent, up from 6.8 percent in November.