MOUNT VERNON — The latest county unemployment figures released by Ohio Department of Job & Family Services show that although the plummet of jobs throughout much of the year has slowed, it hasn’t stopped.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said Matthew Kurtz, interim director of Knox County Job & Family Services. “I don’t expect this to be a bounce-out recovery. It will be a grow-out recovery.”
Knox County’s October unemployment rate was at 8.9, up slightly from September’s 8.7 percent; those numbers came after a drop from August’s rate of 9.4 percent. The county has kept consistently beneath the state unemployment rate, which is currently 10.5 percent. The county has also kept mostly under the national unemployment rate, which was at 9.5 percent in October.
Kurtz said this allies Knox with the pack of counties that has been weathering the recession better than most in Ohio. That group mostly follows the Interstate-71 corridor from Cincinnati through Columbus to Cleveland. The most successful county in that group is Geauga County, which held steady at 6.7 percent unemployment. Two of Knox County’s neighbors, Holmes and Delaware counties, weren’t far behind, at 7.0 and 7.1 percent, respectively.
Of the 72 counties which showed increased unemployment figures in October, Highland County rose to the highest level, weighing in at 15.9 percent joblessness.
Although the unemployment figures show signs of stabilizing, Kurtz said public assistance will lag a few months behind.
“We still are in an increase mode, because that’s a trailing indicator,” Kurtz said.
As people run out of unemployment, Kurtz said many of them are turning to food stamps and other JFS programs. He said JFS staff are continuing to see many customers who never dreamed they would end up on public assistance.
“We’re still waiting for the sun to break through the clouds,” Kurtz said.