Ottawa County unemployment rate hits 15-year low

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OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. (WOOD) — The 2016 unemployment rate for Ottawa County hit a 15-year low.

Unemployment rates in Michigan have continued to decrease ever since they peaked in 2009 during the recession.

Ottawa County officials tell 24 Hour News 8 that they’ve seen a substantial amount of change in the county since 2009. Not only in unemployment rates, but with the county’s growth overall.

“People are moving to the area, businesses are moving to the area, new businesses are starting here in the area,” said Shannon Virtue, assistant director of Ottawa County’s Planning and Performance Improvement Department.

All positive changes in Ottawa County, stemming from a low unemployment rate.

“This is because Ottawa County is a great place to live, work and play,” said Virtue.

24 Hour News 8 took a look at the unemployment rates in Ottawa County dating back to 2000 when rates were at an all-time low — a little under 3 percent. It peaked in 2009 when the unemployment rate was a little more than 12 percent. Since then, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.1 percent.

Ed DeNave, founder of Cento Anni, started his custom woodworking shop out of his basement back in 2012 with only three full time employees.

“We’ve grown to seven full time employees and seven part-time employees and we look like we’re going to continue to grow,” said DeNave. “In the beginning I had to turn away some of the larger jobs because I just didn’t have some of the man power to do them.”

In 2015, the business was able to move to a bigger location in Holland.

“Now we’re working with larger restaurants and bigger projects because we have enough people to handle those projects and still do our day-to-day projects on some of the smaller culinary orders,” said DeNave.

It’s not only a positive change for Cento Anni, but a positive change for Ottawa County.

“A couple of our guys have considered leaving the area after high school and when they came in here they said, “This is what I want to do,’” said DeNave. “So, if there’s an opportunity for me to stay, I’ll stay.”

Ottawa County officials tells 24 Hour News 8 they don’t expect the unemployment rate to increase anytime soon. 2019 is the first year they predict a possible rise in the unemployment rate.

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