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Area unemployment lowest in 4 1/2 years

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The unemployment rate in central Ohio ended 2012 nearly two full percentage points lower than where it started, according to data released this morning by the state.

The jobless rate in the eight-county area surrounding Columbus was 5.4 percent in December, its lowest level since May of 2008, before the onset of the recession, according to the monthly report from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The unemployment rate for the area was 7.3 percent in January but declined during eight of the 12 months of 2012.

The Columbus region finished with an average monthly unemployment rate during 2012 of 6.2 percent, its lowest annual rate since 2008 when it was 5.5 percent.

The report shows 51,800 unemployed workers in the area, the smallest number since May of 2008 when the jobless rate was 5.0 percent.

The state says the 906,900 central Ohioans who were employed, as determined by a poll of households, had dipped slightly from the high-water mark for the year: 914,900 in October, which was the largest number since July of 2008.

However, the region has been troubled by inconsistencies in the size of the workforce, which is the combined total of employed and unemployed workers.

People drop out of the workforce for a variety of reasons, such as caring for ailing family members or returning to school, but also due to frustration.

The workforce in central Ohio has been declining since June but is larger by about 11,000 workers than it was at the beginning of the year.

The region and the city of Columbus enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate of any of Ohio’s largest metropolitan areas.

Toledo performed the worst, laboring under a jobless rate of 8.2 percent.

Ohio’s unemployment rate in December was 6.7 percent; the US rate was 7.8 percent.

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