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Lawrence County’s unemployment rate better than neighboring counties

While it could be better, Lawrence County officials said Thursday that Lawrence County’s unemployment rate could be worse.

According to state figures released earlier this week, the county’s May unemployment rate was 7.7 percent — two-tenths of a percent higher than in April but still considerably lower than many of its neighbors.

“I know we have a number of people hurting but in comparison to the balance of the state, so far, Lawrence County seems to have dodged a bullet in the recession,” Greater Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Dr. Bill Dingus said during Thursday’s Lawrence County Commission meeting. “I was at the announcement at the Piketon plant the other day and Pike County’s unemployment rate is in the teens. Some way, Lawrence County has been able to be a separate entity and I hope it continues.”

Of the state’s 88 counties, 65 had double-digit jobless rates last month. Regionally, Meigs County’s May rate was 14.1 percent, Adams County posted an unemployment rate of 13.8. Scioto County’s jobless rate was 11.5 percent and Gallia’s May rate was 9 percent.

Lawrence County’s rate was the third best in the state, slightly above Holmes County (7.5 percent) and one percentage point about the county with the lowest rate, Delaware (6.7 percent).

Even those who have expressed concern about jobless statistics in the past said they were pleased with the latest report, all things considered.

“I used to downplay it but when yours is 7.7 and other counties are 14 and 15, with the same criteria, well, it’s good that you’re half what the others are,” Commissioner Doug Malone said.

Fellow Commissioner Jason Stephens acknowledged that Lawrence County still has far too many underemployed people— people not making enough money even though they are working, or people working only part-time— but agreed the jobless rate was good news when compared with that of other counties.

Ohio’s statewide May jobless rate was 10.8 percent.