The unemployment rate in Clark and Champaign counties climbed higher in December. Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in December 2018, unchanged from November. While Clark County was at 4.8 percent, up from 4.1 and Champaign was at 4.1, up from 3.5. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Unemployment rates climb in Clark and Champaign counties

Clark County’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent last month, while Champaign County’s unemployment rate stood at 4.1 percent. In November, the rate was 4.1 for Clark and 3.5 for Champaign, according to information from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).

Unemployment rates for both counties were higher compared to the same time last year. The unemployment rate was listed at 4.5 percent in Clark County at the same time last year. Champaign County’s unemployment rate was 3.9 percent one year ago.

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Part of the gap between job openings and unemployed Ohioans comes from employers adding more jobs in a healthy economy. Meanwhile fewer people are entering the workforce than leaving as Baby Boomers retire, said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

“Because of a shrinking labor force, you’re seeing wage pressures that are impacting companies,” Hobbs 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 for example. The U.S. and state figures are adjusted for those factors.

In Champaign County, economic development officials have launched a website called Community JobConnect to serve as a community job board, said Marcia Bailey, director of the Champaign Economic Partnership. The CEP serves as an economic development entity for the county.

“Hopefully more people are going to use that for job-seeking, not just to post jobs but actually to find jobs and load their resumes onto it,” Bailey said.

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Economist Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm, urged caution when looking at the unemployment rate number changes in Clark and Champaign counties.

“You have to pull it apart because the unemployment rate can go up either because the number of people in the area who are working went down or because of the number of people looking went up,” he explained. “The number of jobs in the county is an important distinction between the unemployment numbers.”

He added that in Champaign County, the average from January to June in 2018, the number of jobs went up 1.3 percent from 2017. In Clark County, the number of jobs during the same time period was .6 percent less that it was in 2017.

LaFayette said he has computed seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for Clark County, and the number of people employed went down but not to a significant degree.

“The number of people in the labor force went from 63,500 to 63,600, and that is what’s driving the increase in unemployment rate numbers,” he said. “But that’s not necessarily a bad thing because it means you have more people looking for work, which is an indication they are at least somewhat confident they will find work.”

Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in December 2018, unchanged from November. Ohio’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased 2,900 over the month, from a revised 5,647,900 in November to 5,650,800 in December 2018.

The nation has added jobs for 99 months in a row, the longest streak ever recorded, and 2018 wages had the largest annual increase in a decade, according to federal data.

In Ohio for December, the unemployment rate was lowest in Mercer County, at 3.1 percent, while Monroe County sat on top with the highest rate, 9.2 percent according to ODJFS.

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