The unemployment rate dropped in both Clark and Champaign counties in December, continuing a trend seen in the previous month.
Clark County saw a decrease in its unemployment rate between November and December, with that number going from 4.3% to 4%. The number of people in the county’s labor force, which tracts those employed in some capacity or actively looking for work, during December was 63,900, of which 61,300 were listed as employed.
In Champaign County the unemployment rate went from 3.6% to 3.4% during the months of November and December. The number of people in its labor force in December was 20,000, compared to 20,200 people reported the previous month. Those who were employed in the county during those months also decreased by 200 going from 19,500 to 19,300.
A similar trend was seen during the months of October and November, which saw a larger drop in the unemployment rate for both counties as well as a slight change in the labor force.
During that time period, Clark County saw a slight decrease in its labor force. In Champaign County, the labor force stayed the same between October and November, while employment increased by 300 people.
Towards the end of the year, typically in November and December, the number of people employed or looking for work can vary. For some years it can be high and in others it can be lower than what is normally projected, said Bill LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm.
That can lead to the varying unemployment rates usually seen in those months, especially in December. LaFayette added that during that period there is usually not one single factor that determines the unemployment rate. For certain months of the year, seasonal factors can have a large impact. Those factors include a large flux of college students entering or leaving the workforce or an increase or decrease in temporarily employment opportunities.
“You will see a large increase in the unemployment rate for January. That is not a cause for alarm, since we see the people who were employed over the holidays leaving as we go into the new year,” he said.
However, in December, more people in Clark County were employed or searching for work compared to the same period in 2018, according to monthly employment figures released by the state.
The unemployment rate in Clark County during December, 2018 was 4.8% and the county’s labor force at the time was 63,100, of which 60,000 people were working either in a full-time or part-time capacity.
However, in 2019, the number of Clark County residents who were employed dropped by 1oo people between November and December, going from 61,400 to 61,300.
But that drop is usually projected to be around 500 indicating that there were more people employed in December than what is usually seen during that month, LaFayette added.
When taking into account seasonal trends, the drop in the unemployment rate in Clark County was larger between November and December going from 4.7% to 4.2%.
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