Unemployment statistics from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services indicate the worst of the current economic downturn might not be behind us.

Unemployment statistics from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services indicate the worst of the current economic downturn might not be behind us.

After showing a slight improvement in May, unemployment in Union County shot up to 9.0 percent in June.

Union County's unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in April and dipped to 8.2 percent in May before jumping to 9.0 percent for June.

Union County's 2008 unemployment rate was 5.2 percent. The county's lowest unemployment rate for a full year was 2.9 percent in 1999 and the highest rate for a year was 13.4 percent in 1975, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those figures date back to 1967.

Prior to the economic downturn in October 2008, Union County's unemployment rate was 5.3 percent. It then began a gradual climb, increasing by 3.7 points over the next six months.

Unemployment figures for Ohio was also up in June. Ohio's unemployment rate climbed nearly a point in June from 8.3 percent to 9.1 percent. The state's unemployment rate in June 2008 was 5.8 percent.

The national unemployment rate for June was 9.7 percent.

Eric Phillips, executive director of the Union County Economic Development Partnership, said the rise in local unemployment, while substantial, has not been as bad as in some other parts of Ohio.

"The unemployment rate increase in Union County shows that our community is not immune from this economic distress which is being felt throughout Ohio and the nation," Phillips said. "It is important to note that the rate has not increased as quickly or risen as high as other areas of the state. We are blessed to have a number of successful corporations which continue to support our community. We hope that those unemployed are able to secure work in a timely fashion."

Phillips said it is more important than ever for local residents to support local businesses.

"During this time it is helpful that citizens of Union County purchase their products and services locally," he said. "Buying local supports our businesses which in turn employ our citizens."