Unemployment rate continues to fall in Clark, Champaign counties

Unemployment rates dipped in both Clark and Champaign Counties in April, hitting a 17-year low that was last reached the fall of 2000, according to a state report released Tuesday.

Clark County’s unemployment rate dipped slightly from 4 percent in March to 3.9 percent last month, according to information from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In Champaign County, the unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in April, down from 3.4 percent in March.

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The last time unemployment rates were at that level was October 2000, when Clark County’s unemployment rate was 3.8 percent and Champaign County’s rate was 3.1 percent according to information from the DJFS.

Despite a low unemployment figures, economists said the latest numbers produced mixed results at the state level. The number of people in the state listed as unemployed fell last month. But the state’s non-farm employment also fell during the month.

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“January through March brought good news, but April suggests a return to sluggishness,” said Hannah Halbert, a researcher with left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio. “Since last April, Ohio has added nearly 57,000 jobs, a 1 percent job growth rate. More than a decade and a half of tax cuts and slack investment in public services still has not brought rapid job growth, as some politicians and business interests promised.”

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Still, it’s hard to believe the rates have fallen so low over the past few years, said Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for the Champaign Economic Partnership. The agency provides economic development services for the county.

“Attraction to Ohio, our region and our community is vital to our continued economic growth,” Bailey said. “We have seen a lot of growth in our community and attracting folks to live and work in Champaign County will assist with retention for our businesses. We are currently working with property owners, city and county officials and others for expansion of downtown loft living experiences. We also would like to see further residential development in Champaign County. We have all new schools, career opportunities and affordable living for new residents to enjoy.”

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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.

Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in April, down from 4.4 percent in March. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in April.

In Clark County local economic development officials have said there are still plenty of companies with openings in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, health care and education. The county hosted its 8th annual job fair last week at the Hollenbeck-Bayley Conference Center in downtown Springfield. About 60 employers were on hand for the event, and a line of potential applicants backed up outside the doors that led into the event.

The Springfield News-Sun will continue to provide unmatched coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign Counties. For this story, the paper spoke to local economic development officials and reviewed reports about the area’s unemployment rates.

Unemployment rates: 

Clark County:

January — 4.6 percent

February — 4.4 percent

March — 4 percent

April — 3.9 percent

Champaign County

January —4.1 percent

February — 3.7 percent

March — 3.4 percent

April — 3.2 percent

Source: Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

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