Area unemployment rates rose nearly 2 percent in January as a result of the loss of holiday jobs and a sluggish economy.
Unemployment typically rises in the beginning of the year, but this was the largest month-to-month increase in unemployment in the past five years.
In January, the Clark County unemployment rate was 8.3 percent, up from 6.4 percent in December, according to an Ohio Department of Job and Family Services report released Tuesday. These preliminary numbers have not been seasonally adjusted.
The Champaign County unemployment rate was 8 percent in January, an increase from 6.3 percent in December.
ODJFS spokesman Ben Johnson said the higher unemployment rate could be from a number of factors, including the loss of holiday jobs.
“We could also be seeing fallout from that slowdown or softening of the recovery in the fourth quarter,” Johnson said.
He pointed out that even seasonally adjusted, the state unemployment rate grew from 6.7 percent in December to 7 percent in January. Not seasonally adjusted, the difference is 6.6 percent to 8.4 percent.
The reason is because, at least statewide, the labor force grew.
“That’s a positive sign, even though it temporarily increases the unemployment rate,” Johnson said. “We expect as an economy recovers from a recession for unemployment to go up. We have not seen it yet, but this may be the first sign.”
Local officials anticipate some recovery in the spring.
“Right now is the time companies will hire,” said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. “It’s after the first of the year, and companies are looking at strategic planning and looking forward. Around March and April, businesses decide what their needs are going to be.”
WorkPlus saw an increase in job postings in February from the month before and expects that to grow, said Lehan Peters, deputy director of Job and Family Services of Clark County and WorkPlus One-Stop Center.
Peters said employers typically hire less in November and December and in January, employers are still establishing budgets for the year.
In anticipation, the chamber and local job and family services are hosting a job fair at the Hollenbeck Bayley Conference Center, 275 S. Limestone St. today from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The fair was originally scheduled for last week but was cancelled because of weather.
Forty-three employers will be looking for workers in a variety of fields — including health care, manufacturing and professional services.
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