More people confident enough to start looking for jobs, expert says.
By Hasan Karim, Springfield News-Sun Staff Writer
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State figures showed the unemployment rates in Clark and Champaign counties went up in July as the local labor force continues to grow.
The unemployment rate increased to 4.9% in Clark County, up from 4.2% in June. The increase comes as the county’s labor force has seen steady growth over recent months, according to state data released by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.
In Champaign County, unemployment rose to 4.3%, which is up from the 3.6% reported in June. Both counties experienced a downward trend in unemployment numbers starting at the beginning of the year. However, that rate increased slightly in May and has continued to increase into July.
“This is one of those cases in which the unemployment rate went up for the right reasons,”said Bill LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm.
LaFayette said the labor force in Clark County is larger than what is usually projected for July, leading to an increase in the unemployment rate. Though unemployment tends to go up between the summer months, more people are either currently employed or looking for work compared to the same period last year, he added.
Clark County’s labor force at the end of July had 64,200 people, according to data collected by the Ohio DJFS.
Those numbers showed a decrease of 100 people in the county’s labor force compared to the previous month.
However, there is usually a dip of around 700 people in the county’s labor force between June and July, LaFayette said, noting that a decrease of only 100 people shows that more people are confident enough to start looking for jobs.
He added that those numbers do not take into account seasonal patterns that affect labor and unemployment trends. Those factors can include seasonal employment, major holidays and school schedules.
Taking into account those seasonal factors would bring Clark County’s unemployment rate closer to 4.4 percent in July, compared to a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9 percent reported in June.
LaFayette said factoring in seasonal patterns also brings Clark County’s labor force for July to 64,100 people and that is actually an increase of 600 compared to June’s seasonally adjusted numbers. He said the labor force compared to this time last year is up 1.3 percent.
“For Clark County, this is very good given that the population is stagnant,” LaFayette said. Clark County’s population was estimated to be 134,585 people last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Amy Donahoe, director of workforce development with the Chamber of Greater Springfield, said local companies are taking a more aggressive approach in attracting people that are not in the workforce. She said that includes raising starting wages as well as tweaking benefit packages.
“We have seen record low unemployment numbers in the past year,” Donahoe said.
“Employers have responded to that. They want to make sure they are attracting and retaining good talent.”
Ohio’s seasonally adjusted unemployment in July was 4 percent and remained the same from June, according to the Ohio DJFS. The national rate was 3.7 percent in July, also unchanged from June.
In Champaign County, the labor force decreased by 100 from June and had 20,100 people last month. The number of those reported as employed also went down by 100, according to the most recent information from the Ohio D JFS.
Marcia Bailey, director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, said despite a dip in the labor force, there is not a shortage of job openings in the county, especially in manufacturing and healthcare.
“There are still plenty of job opportunities here. We are still seeing pretty consistent openings,” Bailey said.
She said local manufacturer Rittal has recently posted a notice that it will be conducting open interviews on Tuesday. The company is looking to hire assembly operators, machine operators, welders and paint loader/unloaders, according to the notice.
Bailey said the starting hourly wages for those positions range from $13.40 to $16, according to information provided by Rittal.
Contact this reporter at 937- 328-0355 or email Hasan.Abdul-Karim@coxinc.com.
The Springfield News-Sun will continue to provide unmatched coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties and has covered recent stories relating to wage increases, the latest housing numbers and job growth.
JOBLESS RATES - 2019