Construction is one of the sectors of the economy that saw job losses last month statewide. Bill Lackey/Staff

Unemployment rates up slightly in Clark, Champaign counties

Unemployment rates crept up slightly in Clark and Champaign counties last month, but economists noted joblessness remained relatively stable compared to the same time last year.

Clark County’s unemployment rate rose from 4.1 percent in April to 4.3 percent last month, according to information from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services released Tuesday. The unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in Clark County in May last year.

In Champaign County, the unemployment rate crept up from 3.5 percent to 3.8 percent between April and May. The unemployment rate in that county was 3.7 percent in May last year.

Employment figures for both counties held steady when compared to a year ago, said Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm.

Comparing the employment figures over a longer period of time provides a more accurate picture of how the economy is faring, he said. Unemployment rates tend to rise heading into the summer as school ends and students and other workers begin looking for temporary work, he said.

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

“You’ve got to be a little cautious with May numbers because that’s where the seasonal adjustments start getting really big,” LaFayette said.

In Clark County, the number of people listed as unemployed was flat compared to the same time last year, according to the state data. Both the number of people listed as employed and the size of the labor force, which includes people working and looking for work, saw a slight increase.

Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in May, down from 5 percent in April. Ohio’s 4.9 unemployment rate, which is seasonally adjusted, was unchanged compared to one year ago.

The state has seen job growth in recent years, but LaFayette said it’s lagged behind many other states.

“There’s growth, as there is in Clark County,” LaFayette said of Ohio. “But it’s way below the national average. If you pull Columbus and central Ohio out of the state numbers, the state numbers look quite a lot worse.”

The U.S. unemployment rate in May this year was 4.3 percent.

Information from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services showed Ohio added about 6,300 jobs between April and May. Ohio shed jobs in manufacturing and construction over the month, but saw gains in education and health services, and professional and business services.

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