By Dylan McCament, KnoxPages.com Reporter
MOUNT VERNON - The unemployment rate in Knox County is dropping after a slight increase in January, according to a recent report from Ohio Department of Job & Family Services.
It has been dropping steadily for nearly a decade.
The county's unemployment rate for February was 5.0 percent, compared to 5.8 percent in January and 5.2 percent in February 2016. The state estimates the county's labor force to be 31,400, with 1,600 unemployed in February.
Matthew Kurtz, director of the Knox County Department of Job & Family Services said the county's unemployment rate is coming down from a spike in January and February.
"We are still at that four percent to five percent average that we've seen in the past few years," he said.
In 2016, the average unemployment rate in Knox County was 4.5 percent, according to the ODJFS labor market statistics. In 2015, the rate was 4.6 percent.
Asked about the local labor market, Kurtz added that the industrial sector in Knox County is still fairly strong and the industrial employers, like every employer, are constantly looking for employees. He said that he believes that Knox County's largest employment sector is still agricultural.
"That continues to be quite stable thanks to continued demand for corn and soybeans, two of the largest crops in the county."
In 2007, Knox County had a jobless rate of 5.4 percent, according to state labor labor market information. That figure skyrocketed to 9.7 percent in 2009 in the wake of the economic collapse of the previous year. The rate in 2011 the rate had fallen to 8.8 percent; in 2013, the figure was 6.9 percent.
The change in the county's unemployment rate over the last decade reflect a similar pattern exhibited in the unemployment rate at the state and national level. In 2007, according to ODJFS statistics, Ohio's rate was 5.9 percent; the national rate was 4.9 percent. In 2010, the rate jumped to 10.3 percent for Ohio and 9.6 percent for the U.S; since then it has decreased gradually. In 2016, both the state and national unemployment rate was 4.9 percent.
Ohio's unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in February 2017, up from 5.0 percent in January 2017, according to the ODJFS. The rate for February 2016 was 5.0 percent.
The U.S. unemployment rate for February 2017 was 4.7 percent, 0.1 percentage points lower than in January 2017, and 0.2 percentage points lower than in February 2016.