Economist: Latest data shows stable labor force in Clark County

The unemployment rate in Clark County ticked down in September, while slightly increasing in Champaign County.

Though the labor force for both counties dipped between the months of August and September, it followed similar labor trends seen towards the end of the summer, according to data recently released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The unemployment rate in Clark County in September was 4.2 percent, down from the 4.3 percent reported the previous month. Champaign County saw a slight increase in unemployment between August and September, with that rate going from 3.7 percent to 3.8 percent.

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The labor force in those counties dropped during that period as well. In Clark County, it fell by 800 people, bringing the number of people either employed in some capacity or looking for work during September to 63,400. At the end of August that number was 64,200, according to the Ohio DJFS.

The labor force is determined by the number of people who are either employed or are actively looking for work.

In Champaign County that number went down to 19,800 people from 20,100 reported in August. The number of people listed as employed decreased from 19,300 to 19,000 between those months, according to data from the Ohio DJFS.

The number of people employed either full-time or part-time in Clark County decreased to 60,700 from the 61,400 reported in August. Bill LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm, said the labor force reflected a similar pattern seen during the same time period last year.

LaFayette said there is usually a drop in the labor force and employment from August to September as many college students go back to school and leave the workforce. He said summer businesses also tend to pull back at this time of year.

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Amy Donahoe, Director of Workforce Development with the Chamber of Greater Springfield, said the county is currently at full employment, as the unemployment has not increased over 4.9 percent in over a year.

“With full employment, and the unemployment rate around 4 percent, there is not a lot of people actively looking for work,” she said.

This has prompted employers to look at potential candidates that may have been overlooked in the past, including those who have developmental disabilities or those who are incarcerated, the News-Sun reported.

Donahoe said area employers have started to shift towards being more open to flexible work schedules or offering more part time employment opportunities. She said employers across the job market in Clark County are having trouble finding qualified candidates.

Though, seasonal trends did not differ much over the summer, she said the current labor market could have an impact on the holiday hiring season seen towards the end of the year.

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“I think it is going to be more difficult for seasonal employers, especially in retail, because of our current employment position,” Donahoe said.

In terms of the unemployment rate in Clark County and its labor force during August and September, LaFayette said he adjusted them to take into account seasonal patterns such as summer jobs and school schedules.

Once seasonally adjusted, the unemployment rate in September for the county actually increased slightly to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent in August.

“The seasonally adjusted labor force declined by several hundred, but that was likely within the margin of error, implying a stable labor force,” LaFayette said.

In Champaign County, Marcia Bailey, Director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, said area employers are having trouble finding candidates.

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She said it can be a number of things, such as a relatively low unemployment rate, or some workers afraid of losing certain social services if they move into a higher income bracket, or those seeking employment opportunities outside of the county.

“People are hiring. There are jobs available. The challenge is finding employees to take these positions, it’s finding people that will be committed,” Bailey said.

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