The anticipated summer drop in area unemployment figures has begun.
Unemployment figures in May fell for Erie, Huron, Ottawa and Sandusky counties, according to data released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Erie County came in with the lowest unemployment rate for the four-county area, ranking 66th overall on a list of 88 counties.
That rare, but not unheard of, occurrence bumped Sandusky County out of its normal last-place ranking, coming in 56th out of 88.
Erie County in May officially recorded 1,900 people unemployed out of a workforce of 41,400 people. That is a 4.6 percent unemployment rate, down from the 5.4 percent unemployment rate in April.
“It's a great figure, wonderful, for Erie County,” said Peter Zaehringer, executive director Erie County Economic Development Corporation.
He attributes the reduction in May to the beginning of the tourism season. May is traditionally when Cedar Point, restaurants and hotels hire staff to handle the influx of people coming into the county.
Erie County, however, does not rely entirely on tourism, he said, pointing to its agriculture, the healthcare industry and a manufacturing jobs base.
“The tourism industry in the last five years only added 400 jobs,” Zaehringer said. “Manufacturing in Erie County added 1,200 jobs.”
Sandusky County saw an official unemployment count of 1,500 people unemployed out of a workforce 31,700 people. That accounts for a 4.8 percent unemployment rate.
Huron County in May saw its unemployment rate fall to 6.7 percent from 7.9 percent the month before. That means 1,700 people are officially on the unemployment rolls out of a workforce of 26,100 people.
The dip in unemployment makes since to Carol Knapp, executive director of the Huron County Development Council.
“Huron County's leading No. 1 industry is agriculture. We have 217,000 acres of farmland,” Knapp said.
And work in the fields would was gearing up in May.
There was also an upswing in the construction industry in the county, she said.
Ottawa County saw its unemployment figure plummet to 5.6 percent in May, down from 7.4 percent in April.
Erie and Sandusky counties fared better than the states' reported 5.5 percent May unemployment figure.
County May 2014 April 2014 May 2013
Huron 6.7 7.9 9.2
Ottawa 5.6 7.4 7.9
Sandusky 4.8 5.2 6.8
Erie 4.6 5.4 6.6