By CARL E. FEATHER - email@example.com
— Ashtabula County’s unemployment rate ended the year at 9 percent, the highest in the region and tying Coshocton County for 14th highest in the state.
The rate was not adjusted for seasonal hiring variations, such as retailers adding jobs for the holiday season. The state’s rate in December was 6.6 percent, also not adjusted for seasonal variations.
The county’s unemployment rate in November was 8.6 percent. According to the data behind the December rate, there were 200 more county residents out of work in December than there were in November. Further, the number of residents holding a job fell from 42,900 in November to 42,400 in December. The size of the workforce shrank by 300 workers to 46,600. The decline suggests that residents gave up their search for work or moved out of the area.
The county started the year with an unemployment rate of 11.4 percent and 5,300 residents out of work. The year ended with 4,300 unemployed and 42,800 working either full-time or part-time civilian jobs.
Ashtabula County’s annual unemployment rate average for 2012 was 9.1 percent; for 2011, it was 10.6 percent.
The county in 2012 experienced the closing of at least one industrial facility, ESAB Welding and Cutting Products in Ashtabula Township, which employed up to 120 persons. The work performed at that factory was moved to a new facility in South Carolina. There also have been job loses at the Ashtabula Towne Square, which most recently lost Christopher and Banks.
December’s 9 percent rate compares poorly to other counties in northeast Ohio, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The northeast Ohio county with the next highest rate was Trumbull County at 8 percent. Lake County was at 6.3 percent and Geauga County at 5.7 percent.
Ashtabula County’s highest unemployment rate during the Great Recession came in January 2010, when 7,500 residents were out of work and the rate soared to 15.5 percent. The rate has shown steady improvement since then, except during the winter months, when it typically rises a couple of percentage points.
Nevertheless, the 9 percent rate in December indicates that the county has not fully recovered from the unemployment brought on by the Great Recession. In December 2007, the rate was 7.4 percent.