Clark County jobless rate creeps up as more people look for work

Unemployment rates crept up in Clark County in October, but economists said the latest figures provided by the state were a good sign as more people began looking for work.

Clark County’s unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in October, up from 4.1 percent in September. The unemployment rate also crept up from 3.6 percent in September to 3.7 percent in Champaign County, according to information from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The latest numbers are good news for Clark County, said Bill LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm. In this case, he said, the unemployment rate rose in part because the number of people working or looking for work slightly increased in Clark County.

MORE: Unemployment rates up in Clark, Champaign Counties

“The labor force was pretty stable, meaning the number of people coming into the labor force was about as many or slightly more than you’d expect this time of year,” LaFayette said.

The monthly county updates from the state aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal patterns that include summer hiring, major holidays and school schedules. The U.S. and state figures are adjusted for those factors. If seasonal factors were taken into account, LaFayette said Clark County’s unemployment rate would be closer to 4.7 percent in October.

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Information from the Ohio DJFS showed there were about 63,800 people in Clark County’s labor force in October this year, up slightly from 63,600 during the same month last year.

Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in October 2018, unchanged from September, according to the Ohio DJFS. The U.S. unemployment rate for October was 3.7 percent, unchanged from September, and down from 4.1 percent in October 2017.

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Champaign County’s labor force remained flat at 19,800 compared to one year ago.

Locally, several area companies are looking for workers in a variety of industries. Ohio Means Jobs Clark County will host hiring events with four separate companies before the end of this month, including manufacturing firms like Parker Trutec and Remington Steel in Clark County.

Remington Steel in Springfield will host open interviews from 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at Ohio Means Jobs Clark County, 1345 Lagonda Ave. in Springfield.

Remington was acquired by Westfield Steel about two years ago, but is still known to most local residents as Remington. The company has immediate openings for about five or six employees, but the low unemployment rate has made it tougher for many area firms to find qualified workers, said Hope Rice, a human resources generalist for Westfield Steel.

She said the company boosted wages for most of its workers after the acquisition to remain competitive. Along with its hiring event, she said the company recently reached out to local resources like Clark State Community College and Opportunities for Individual Change of Clark County, a local non-profit that provides training programs for area workers.

“We’re trying to recruit from other companies, while understanding the rest of the companies in the area are in a similar position,” Rice said.

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Parker Trutec, a manufacturing firm with locations in Springfield and Urbana, is looking for furnace operators, maintenance technicians, a production control scheduler and shipping and receiving technicians. Starting pay ranges from $12 to $15.80 per hour.

The business will host a hiring event from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at Ohio Means Jobs Clark County.

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At the state level, Ohio is seeing solid job growth, said Andrew Kidd, an economist with the conservative Buckeye Institute. The private sector added about 10,900 new jobs in October, with growth in the transportation, warehousing, and utilities sectors. Kidd credited tax reforms at both the state and national level.

However, Kidd said there is still cause for concern that Ohio’s unemployment rate is still nearly a point higher than the national average.

“Now, for the fourth month in a row, Ohio’s unemployment rate is 4.6 percent with the labor force participation rate at 62.5 percent,” Kidd said. “This indicates the state is not attracting the young skilled workers it needs to replace retiring Baby Boomers.”

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