Employment situation improves in Clark and Champaign compared to April 2021

A worker at McGregor Metal's Leffel Lane facility on Wednesday. The company is looking to hire 50 more people over an eight month period. Hasan Karim/Staff

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A worker at McGregor Metal's Leffel Lane facility on Wednesday. The company is looking to hire 50 more people over an eight month period. Hasan Karim/Staff

The employment situation in Clark and Champaign counties have improved since last April, but the total number of residents looking for work and currently employed is still down when compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic.

More residents in those counties were listed as employed or looking for work during April of this year than the same period last year. The unemployment rates were also much lower last month when compared to April 2021.

Employment data released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services this week showed that the unemployment rate in April for Clark County was 3.6% and in Champaign County it was 3%.

That represented a drop from March that saw a Clark County unemployment rate of 4.3% and a Champaign County unemployment rate of 3.8%.

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Those rates in April 2021 were 5.5% for Clark County and 4.4% in Champaign County. However, that did mark an improvement when compared to 2020 as both those counties were hit hard by the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic.

In April 2020, Clark County’s unemployment rate soared from 5.6% in March of that year to 16.5% and in Champaign County that rate went from 4.8% to 17.4%.

When adjusting local employment data to account for seasonal trends that can impact labor, such as temporary employment, there has been an improvement to the local economy since then.

Many who had temporarily left the workforce due to the pandemic have since returned, and the labor force, the combined total of residents working or looking for work, has improved since April 2020.

But, many employers are still struggling to find workers and the economic impacts caused in part by the pandemic, such as inflation and shortages, are still being felt.

Clark County had an estimated labor force of 62,500 during April of this year. A decrease from the 63,200 estimated in March. Champaign County saw its labor force go from 19,600 to 19,500 during March and April.

The number of residents estimated to be employed in some form in Clark County went from 60,500 to 60,300 during those two months. In Champaign County, that number slightly increased from 18,800 to 19,000.

However, that is an improvement when compared to the same months in 2021 and 2020. Clark County had a labor force of 62,100 in April of last year, in which 58,700 were estimated to be employed. In 2020, the labor force was 61,000 of which 50,900 were employed in some form.

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In Champaign County, the labor force for April 2021 was 19,400 and 18,500 were estimated to be employed. In April of 2020, only 16,500 were estimated to be employed out of a total labor force of 19,900.

“So, really the news is that things are pretty stable now. Stable to slightly down,” said economist Bill LaFayette. “But compared to where you were last year, you’re still better off.

Although the economy has improved, the pandemic is still having an impact and has accelerated pre-pandemic trends such as lower labor participation rates driven by retirements and difficulty in finding replacements, said LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm

The labor force is still down in Clark and Champaign counties when compared to the April before the pandemic.

Clark County saw a labor force of 63,500 during that month and Champaign County saw a labor force of 20,200.

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