Clark adds jobs, but more seeking work

Champaign County lost jobs after months of adding them.

Clark County followed a statewide trend of adding both jobs and residents seeking work, according to state figures released Tuesday.

About 100 jobs were created in Clark County in May, but the number of residents looking for work also increased by about 300 residents.

That means Clark County’s unemployment rate ticked up to 6.9 percent for May, compared to 6.7 percent in April.

That’s likely a result of graduating students entering the work force and others looking for summer jobs, said Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

“We have been saying for some time that the economy is slowly recovering and we’ve seen that in May,” Johnson said.

Ohio added about 32,100 jobs over the previous month, but because of an increase in the labor force, the state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in May.

Champaign County, though, saw its unemployment rate tick up as it lost jobs.

Champaign County lost about 100 jobs compared to April, and its unemployment rate rose from 6.3 to 6.6 percent. Champaign County was one of only a handful of counties statewide that lost jobs, Johnson said, noting it was a relatively small decline.

That reverses a trend in which Champaign County had recently been adding jobs. The county’s unemployment rate had fallen from 7.7 percent in March to 6.3 percent in April, adding about 300 new jobs while its workforce remained stable.

The Clark County figures are typical for this time of year as more seasonal jobs become available, said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

Most companies locally aren’t hiring in large numbers, but some smaller companies, particularly in manufacturing, are consistently adding small numbers of new employees. Many of those jobs are skilled positions that require specialized training or certification, Donahoe said.

“One or two jobs makes a large difference for a small manufacturing firm or a small company in general,” Donahoe said.

One of the companies that has been hiring in Clark County is CodeBlue. It has been hiring workers consistently and expects to continue to add a few more, but at a modest pace, President and CEO Paul Gross said. CodeBlue provides management for water mitigation, contents and salvage claims for insurance carriers nationwide.

“We do consistently hire and we are constantly looking for good people,” Gross said.

One of the challenges Gross has seen is prospective workers turning down jobs and instead relying on unemployment benefits for their income. He said the company has extended job offers, only to have them turned down when the prospective employee chose to continue receiving unemployment benefits instead.

“There has been some challenge in finding folks because the unemployment benefits extend beyond the conventional term of the program,” said Gross, who is also a Republican Madison County commissioner.

Some prospective workers are also being more selective in the kinds of jobs they’re taking, said Lehan Peters, deputy director of WorkPlus. The agency is part of Job and Family Services of Clark County and provides training and other resources for local employees.

In the past two years, many residents seeking work often took the first job that became available, Peters said. But it’s now becoming more common for prospective employees to weigh a handful of potential offers before making a decision.

“That kind of shows us we are steadily adding jobs, not in masses, but here and there,” Peters said.

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