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Local jobless rate drops

Clark County official says employers are hiring, but area continues to dig out of the recession.

Local unemployment rates fell in February as 300 more people in Clark and Champaign counties found work, and employers are still hiring, one county official said Tuesday.

“In general the economy is still improving, even though recovery slowed the last quarter of 2012,” said Ben Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. “We expect in general the rate will continue to trend down. It’s more difficult to say it will decline in any one month.”

In Clark County, unemployment fell from 8.3 percent to 7.4 percent from January to February, according to an ODJFS report released Tuesday. Champaign County unemployment dropped from 8 percent to 7.3 percent during the same time period.

“If you look back at the last three years, we’re still digging ourselves out of a recession,” said Lehan Peters, deputy director for Job and Family Services of Clark County.

Three years ago, the February unemployment rate was 11.8 percent in Clark County and 12.6 percent in Champaign County. A year ago, the unemployment rate was 8.6 percent and 8.5 percent in Clark and Champaign counties, respectively.

“We still have a lot of employers that are hiring,” Peters said.

This month, JFS and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce held a job fair with 43 employers in attendance and more than 600 job seekers.

“We’re still seeing an upturn in manufacturing and still seeing a lot of jobs in the insurance industry, where they’re hiring people,” Peters said.

Johnson said that for Clark County in February, the labor force shrunk and 200 people found jobs. In Champaign County, the labor force remained steady, and 100 people found work.

“It’s important to remember these numbers are not seasonally adjusted,” Johnson said. “This is the time of the year without a lot of seasonal factors. The increase in January could be from some residual effect from holiday hiring.”

Unemployment typically rises at the beginning of the year but experienced a larger than usual jump at the beginning of this year.

JFS sent out surveys to employers to find out how successful its March job fair was.

Steve Turner of Fairborn attended the job fair and said he has been looking for work for five months. So far, he’s had no luck finding book keeping and office manager positions.

“It no longer exists,” he said. “Not as long as we keep sending jobs to China.”

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