The unemployment rates for Clark and Champaign counties jumped in October as more people than previously projected are looking for jobs, according to monthly unemployment figures released by the state.
The unemployment rate in Clark County increased from 4.2% in September to 5% in October, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In Champaign County, the unemployment rate increased from 3.8% in September to 4.8% in October.
In Clark County, that jump was fueled by an increase in the county’s labor force, the number of people either employed or listed as looking for jobs, said Bill LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm.
He described that bump as larger than what is usually seen between those months and said it’s an example of the unemployment rate increasing for the right reasons since more people are looking for work.
The labor force in Clark County grew by 1,100 people between the months of September and October going from 63,500 to 64,600, according to the ODJFS. Champaign County’s labor force went from 19,800 to 20,200.
During the same period last year there was an increase of 700 people in Clark County’s labor force, which was 63,400 in October, 2018. The unemployment rate changed slightly during those months going from 4.2 % to 4.4%.
Though there is a usual spike in people entering the labor pool this time of year due to a ramp up in seasonal employment, the increase this year was larger. It is something reflected in the data once adjusted to take into account seasonal trends such as holiday hiring and school schedules, LaFayette said.
Once seasonally adjusted, the unemployment rate in Clark County for October was 5.3%, compared to 4.5% in September. However, the number of people listed as employed in some capacity was steady between that period.
The labor force increased from 60,800 to 61,400 in October, according to the ODJFS. That increase was similar to what was reported during the same period last year, with that number increasing from 60,000 to 60,600.
Amy Donahoe, Director of Workforce Development with the Chamber of Greater Springfield, said she was surprised to see that the unemployment rate increased as much as it did.
Donahoe said in general, employers are having difficulty finding workers with the skills they need. She said this has prompted some employers, especially in manufacturing, to start training already employed workers for more skilled positions.
“The latest trend that we are seeing is those employers are (training) their current employees and then back filling those (entry level) positions,” Donahoe said.
“If you can’t find talent you have to create it. That means finding opportunities within the company,” she added.
Some employers in the manufacturing and healthcare fields are turning to places such as Clark State, which can provide short-term training courses. Donahoe said that is crucial for employers that are looking for workers with specific skills.
She said a shortage in skilled labor has prompted employers to become more creative in their approach to attract and retain qualified employees, adding that can mean flexible hours or a reexamination in benefit packages.
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