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Unemployment increase has bright side, state says

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio’s unemployment increased 0.3 percent in January, in spite of the fact that the state added nearly 4,000 jobs, primarily because more people were encouraged to look for work, according to the state Department of Job and Family Services.

“You have to be looking to be counted as unemployed,” ODJFS spokesman Benjamin Johnson said.

The jobless rate was 7.0 percent in January, up from 6.7 percent in December, according to data released this morning.

However, an increase in the number of jobs signals an increase in the state’s total work force, which is a sign that Ohioans feel more confident about finding jobs, Johnson said.

“Seeing the labor force grow is a positive thing. We haven’t seen that as much lately,” Johnson said.

He added it remains to be seen whether this is a one-month “aberration” or the beginning of a trend.

The unemployment rate was still well below last January’s 7.6 percent and the national rate of 7.7.

The federal government announced that the economy added 236,000 jobs in February – much stronger than the prior month – and the unemployment rate fell from 7.9 percent, indicating the pace of economic recovery is still very slow.

While the number of unemployed Ohioans grew by 14,000 from December to January, the number of unemployed has declined by 42,000 in the last year, Johnson said.

The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in January was 399,000, up from 385,000 in December.

Much of the job gains in Ohio came in the construction and manufacturing sectors, which accounted for the 3,700 of the 3,900 new jobs, according to a business survey conducted by the US Department of Labor (Bureau and the ODJFS.

The service sector added only 800 jobs, with gains in educational and health services and information weighted down by losses in trade, transportation, utilities, financial activities and state and federal government, the data said.

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