Unemployment rates drop in August in Clark, Champaign counties

Unemployment rates fell in Clark and Champaign counties in August while economists said results at the state level showed mixed results.

The unemployment rate in Clark County fell to 5 percent in August, according to information from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services released Tuesday. That’s down from July’s 5.7 percent unemployment rate, but flat compared to the same time last year.

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Information from the Ohio DJFS showed about 400 people dropped out of the labor force in Clark County, which counts people who are either working or looking for work. The number of people listed as unemployed also fell.

In Champaign County, the unemployment rate fell from 5.1 percent in July to 4.4 percent in August. The unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in August one year ago in Champaign County.

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There the number of people in the workforce and the number of those listed as employed both ticked up slightly compared to the previous month.

The state unemployment rate is adjusted for factors like seasonal hiring patterns, while county unemployment rates are not. Ohio’s unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in August this year, up from 5.2 percent in July.

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Much of the change in Clark County can be attributed to seasonal hiring patterns, said Bill Lafayette, owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm. If those factors were taken into account, he said Clark County’s real unemployment rate would be closer to 5.3 percent, basically flat compared to the previous month.

“When you seasonally adjust the unemployment, you get exactly the same you got last month, 5.3 percent,” LaFayette said.

Clark County has had some positive jobs news in recent weeks.

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Silfex, a high-tech manufacturing firm based in Eaton, Ohio, purchased the former Thirty-One Gifts plant near the PrimeOhio Industrial Park for $11 million. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority has approved an incentive package for the company as part of a plan that could add as many as 400 new jobs and a $223 million investment in Springfield. Annual payroll would average $20.7 million, according to state documents.

Honda also announced that it has added 300 jobs to support production of its new 2018 Accord made in Marysville. The automaker is a major employer of Clark and Champaign County residents, with 1,400 workers from here.

At the state level, unemployment data from the state was a mixed bag, said Rea Hederman Jr., executive director at the Buckeye Institute, a conservative think tank. Two separate surveys showed contrasting views of the state’s labor market, he said.

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A household survey, which is used to determine the unemployment rate, showed the unemployment rate creep up from July even as more people left the labor force. However, a separate survey of businesses showed the private sector added 11,000 jobs in August.

“It is not uncommon for the two different surveys to diverge given that they measure different things and one interviews people and the other businesses,” Hederman said. “However, if the surveys become more similar and growth stagnates like it has in the household survey, Ohio policymakers will need to consider more pro-growth policies.”

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