After edging up to start the year, the unemployment rate for Auglaize County in February decreased.
In data released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Auglaize County registered an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, a decrease from 6.2 percent in January. Last year, the unemployment rate sat at 6.8 percent.
“Obviously any drop in the unemployment rate is always a positive, but we will see eventually how that affects our income tax and that is truer indication of what is happening in the jobs market,” Mayor Rodney Metz said. “The question I have always asked of state officials is how many people dropped off the rolls by virtue that their benefits ran out as opposed to being employed.
“With the numbers going down, it is a positive and that is what we hope for each month,” the mayor said.
Metz said he talked with executives at two industrial plants in Wapakoneta who have told him they have everybody called back and working whom they had laid off during the recession.
For the first two months, Wapakoneta city income tax revenues are nearly $13,000 less at $393,971 compared to last year when the city collected $406,746.
While the mayor said he watches the numbers closely, he wanted to wait until after the June income tax revenue numbers are in to make a determination how collections are going for the year.
“We need to look at it at the half-way point to be able to compare it to the unemployment figures because there are so many variables in regard to income tax collections regarding when they report it, when they turn it in, what report it goes on and if they use a third-party vendor,” Metz said. “I like to keep a close eye on it and then ask questions about the collections.
“I think we should see an improvement overall for the year because we have a couple city projects starting yet this year which should generate some income tax,” the mayor said, “and I have heard some businesses are making improvements and will be doing some additional hirings in the future.”
St. Marys city officials also greeted the news as a good sign.
“I think it’s good that they are going in the right direction,” St. Marys Development Manager Susan Crotty said. “It appears the decrease is fairly consistent across the state so I believe it’s most likely seasonal — but since it did drop, I hope that means more of our citizens are finding employment.”
Working together with other communities has helped the region fair better than the rest of the state regarding employment, Crotty noted.
“We are more effective as a region than we are individually,” Crotty said. “Working with my Auglaize County partners and West Central Ohio partners helps us to be more effective in our marketing and reach a wider audience. That allows us to promote the area and to let people know what is positive around our region regarding business development.”
The rest of the region saw similar results. Mercer County, which has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, settled in at 4.8 percent, a decrease from 5.2 percent in January.
Allen County registered a rate of 8.3 percent, a decrease from 9.1 percent, Shelby County was at 6.9 percent, a decrease from 7.6 percent, Van Wert County was at 7.6 percent, a decrease from 8.5 percent, Logan County was at 7 percent, a decrease from 7.8 percent, Hardin County was at 7.6 percent, a decrease from 8.3 percent and Darke County was at 7.5 percent, a decrease from 8.4 percent.
The statewide unemployment rate for February was 7 percent — which was unchanged from January.