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Central Ohio’s jobless rate ticks up to 3.7 percent

Back-to-school hiring by public schools and universities trumped cuts across a broad swath of private industries to slightly boost hiring in central Ohio last month.

The region added 2,800 jobs in September, according to an Ohio Department of Job and Family Services report released on Tuesday.

Despite the job gains, central Ohio’s unemployment rate edged up to 3.7 percent from August’s 14-year low of 3.6 percent as the number of unemployed workers rose by 600 last month.

Unemployment reports are made of two surveys, one of employers and the second of households — and they don’t always move in the same direction. In September, the surveys really showed little change, given the size of central Ohio’s labor force.

Public elementary and high schools added 5,000 jobs last month and public universities added 7,000 jobs. That was enough to offset losses, including professional and business service (3,700 jobs), leisure and hospitality (2,000 jobs) and finance (1,700 jobs).

The increases in school hiring seemingly contradict Friday’s statewide job report that showed Ohio losing 15,100 local-government jobs last month. The difference is that results released on Friday are adjusted to account for seasonal variations while the results released on Tuesday are not.

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“The Columbus metro added jobs, and the increase was in state and local government (and) education,” said Benjamin Johnson, a Job and Family Services spokesman. “You would expect that at the start of the school year.”

The report did show one potential worry: The labor force shrank for the third straight month and now is below where it was in September 2014.

“The labor force has been declining since July, … and now the labor force is less than it was last year for the first time in a long time,” said Bill LaFayette, owner of economic-consulting firm Regionomics.

Also worth watching is the job losses in some sectors, he said, particularly professional business services and finances.

“We may be having a problem, but we’re going to have to wait for a couple of months and see what happens,” he said.

Columbus has the lowest unemployment rate among the state’s metros. Cincinnati has the next-lowest rate at 3.9 percent.

Statewide, unemployment rates increased in 46 counties last month, decreased in 11 counties and remained flat in 31 counties.

Mercer County in northwestern Ohio again had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.8 percent. Monroe County in eastern Ohio continues to have the highest rate in the state at 8.4 percent.

This article was written by Mark Williams from The Columbus Dispatch and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.