Silflex held an open house at the new 350,000 square foot facility on Titus Road last month. The company expects to hire soon for its new Springfield expansion, one of the businesses expected to stabilize Springfield’s job market this year. Bill Lackey/Staff

Unemployment rates up in Clark, Champaign counties

Unemployment rates jumped slightly in Clark and Champaign counties as seasonal holiday jobs wound down at the end of last year, according to information released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Tuesday.

The unemployment rate in Clark County was 4.7 percent in January, compared to 4.5 percent in December. In Champaign County, the unemployment rate rose from 3.9 percent in December to 4.1 percent in January.

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However Clark County’s job outlook has been stable, local leaders told the Springfield News-Sun on Tuesday, and the region’s economy is expected to remain so throughout the year.

“We’re working to engage a lot of individuals who live here in Clark County but are working outside our county and try to pull them back in with some of the great opportunities that are coming up in the next few months,” said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Chamber of Greater Springfield.

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Donahoe pointed to companies like Silfex, which is beginning construction to transform a 350,000-square-foot warehouse on Titus Road into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. That company has pledged to create about 400 jobs over the next several years and invest $223 million in the community.

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Silfex will host a job fair in Springfield on April 21, she said, and is already hiring for some positions.

The chamber is also working with OhioMeansJobs-Clark County to host an annual job fair on Tuesday, May 15, in downtown Springfield. The event was just announced this week, but about a third of the booth space is already booked by local employers, she said.

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“We’re continuing to try to find the pockets of individuals who are either recent graduates or college graduates and trying to retrain or attract them to this area,” Donahoe said.

The unemployment rates remain lower in both Clark and Champaign counties compared to the same time last year. The unemployment rate in January 2017 was 6 percent in Clark County and 4.9 percent in Champaign County.

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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.

Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in January, down from 4.9 percent in December, according to information from the Ohio DJFS. The state’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent at the same time last year.

The state added about 12,100 jobs in January, with the biggest gains in local and state government, construction, and professional and business services.

The state job growth was good news, said Rea Hederman Jr., vice president of policy at The Buckeye Institute, a conservative think tank. But he noted the state still trails much of the rest of the country.

“Ohio’s unemployment rate declined from 4.9 percent in December to 4.7 percent in January, continuing a positive economic path for Ohio’s labor market,” Hederman said. “However, Ohio’s unemployment rate still remains well above the national average of 4.1 percent, indicating there are still obstacles that policymakers need to address to make Ohio a national leader.”

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