Workers place the steel beams in place on the Topre America construction site Monday. Topre announced plans to invest $73M and add 204 new jobs to Springfield. That is on top of an announcement last year the company planned to invest $55 million and create 55 jobs. Bill Lackey/Staff

Unemployment rates drop in Clark, Champaign counties

Unemployment rates fell in Clark and Champaign counties in February, according to state data released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

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The unemployment rate dipped to 4.4 percent in Clark County and 3.7 percent in Champaign County, according to information from the state. That’s down from 4.6 percent in Clark County and 4.1 percent in Champaign County in January.

That followed a statewide trend that saw Ohio’s unemployment rate fall to 4.5 percent, down from 4.7 percent in January.

The monthly county updates from the state aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal patterns that include summer hiring, major holidays and school schedules. The U.S. and state figures are adjusted for those factors.

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In Springfield, Mayor Warren Copeland said Springfield’s real job growth is likely still on its way. Manufacturing firms like Silfex and Topre have pledged to invest millions of dollars and provide hundreds of new jobs for the area.

Springfield has benefited from an improving economy, he said. But Copeland said local leaders need to continue working with local businesses and entities like Clark State Community College to improve workforce development.

“Springfield’s big problem is not so much unemployment as it is people working at low-paying jobs,” Copeland said. “Hopefully these two major wins economically will bring good-paying jobs to the community, which will push up our average income.”

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Ohio’s non-agricultural wage and salary employment increased 13,400 over the month, according to the state data, and the state unemployment rate dipped from 4.7 percent in January to 4.5 percent in February.

The state saw gains in industries like manufacturing and construction, as well as leisure and hospitality.

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The data released Tuesday showed positive improvement in the state’s labor market, said Andrew Kidd, an economist at the conservative Buckeye Institute’s Economic Research Center. However, he noted the state’s unemployment rate remains well above the national rate of 4.1 percent.

“Ohio is continuing to see positive job growth path, yet an unchanged labor force participation rate is concerning as it shows some individuals are discouraged from job searching,” Kidd said. “Occupational licensing reform can reduce those disincentives, and, combined with eliminating special interest tax credits, will help Ohio to reach its goal of being a national leader in job creation.”

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