Clark, Champaign unemployment rates in May some of lowest since start of pandemic

Several fast food restaurants are hiring in the Springfield area. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Several fast food restaurants are hiring in the Springfield area. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

The unemployment rates in Clark and Champaign counties decreased in May, representing some of the lowest unemployment rates seen in the area since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

That decrease in Clark County was driven by an increase in both the number of people looking for work and the number of residents employed in some form. In Champaign County, both the number of residents employed and the labor force stayed the same during April and May.

According to data recently released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the unemployment rate in Clark County went from 3.5% in April to 3.3% in May. In Champaign County that rate went from 3% to 2.8%.

The labor force, which is the total number of residents employed and looking for work, in Champaign county stayed the same at 19,600 people during both months. However, it increased from 62,500 to 62,900 in Clark County from April to May.

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The number of residents estimated to be employed in some form stayed the same in Champaign County at 19,000. However, that number increased in Clark County from 60,300 to 60,800 during those two months.

Though the number of people estimated to be in Clark County’s labor force in May was on par with what is usually expected that time of year, there were 100 more people estimated to be employed that month than what is traditionally seen, when factoring in seasonal trends, according to Bill LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm.

LaFayette said that Clark County’s unemployment rate is a good sign that the local economy has improved since last year. The unemployment rate during the same month in 2021 was 6.1%. The labor force and the number of people estimated to be employed during that period were 62,200 and 58,500 respectively.

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“Things are much better,” he said, noting employment is up and that many who had left the workforce due to the pandemic have since returned.

The unemployment rates in both Clark and Champaign counties had shot up amid the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. Those rates hit record highs of 16.5% for Clark County and 17.4% for Champaign County during April of that year. Those unemployment rates did drop to 12.7% and 10.8% respectively in May of 2020.

Though the local economy has shown signs of recovery since then, it still is being impacted by supply shortages and high inflation. Local employers are also still grappling with pre-pandemic challenges in attracting labor.

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