COLUMBUS, Ohio â€“ One economist’sÂ opinion that central Ohio recovered from the recession nearly a year ago and didnâ€™t know it takes some of the sting out of a report that shows the area’s unemployment rate jumped to 6.9 percent in January.
â€śWe got new, corrected numbers from the state last Friday on the number of jobs in central Ohio that showed us that we actually re-entered record territory, made back all the jobs we lost in the recession last March without even knowing it,â€ť said Bill LaFayette, founder of Regionomics.
That comes as the latest unemployment report on the eight-county Columbus metropolitan area shows the jobless rate in the region took a dramatic jump in January, to its highest level in nearly a year.
LaFayette says there is more â€“ and less — to the 1.5 point jump from Decemberâ€™s 5.4 percent to Januaryâ€™s 6.9 than meets the eye.
â€śThis actually is a very good report,â€ť he said.
His seasonally-adjusted figures suggest a less drastic increase — 5.7 to 6.5 percent â€“ and he says a change like that is not unusual from December to January when the end of the holidays signals layoffs in the retail, transportation and food service sectors of the economy.
However, an increase in the number of people counted as unemployed and a larger work force indicate growing optimism among central Ohioans.
â€śYou have people who are confident, more so perhaps than theyâ€™ve been in years and years about their ability to get a job,â€ť LaFayette said.
At 6.8 percent, Columbus still enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate of any major Ohio city.
The 901,600 people in central Ohio who were working was an historic high for January. Even though it was about 1,300 fewer than the month before,Â it was approximately 21,000 more than one year ago, according to data released by the state today.
The 6.9 percent unemployment rate cited by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services was the highest since the rate reached 7.2 percent in February of 2012.
By comparison, there are 41,500 more people employed and 24,500 fewer unemployed in the region than at the low point of the recession, February of 2010, when the unemployment rate reached 9.6 percent.
The statewide unemployment rate in January was 7.0 percent and the US rate was 7.9 percent.