Unemployment up slightly in Clark County, job growth slow in Ohio

Jan 23, 2018
Assurant is one of several businesses taking part in a job fair being held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at the Faith United Methodist Church, 102 W. High St. Bill Lackey/Staff

The unemployment rate in Clark County climbed to 4.5 percent in December as the state continued to see slower job growth than it has seen in previous years.

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Clark County’s unemployment rate rose last month from about 4.2 percent in November, according to information from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Champaign County’s unemployment rate increased to 3.9 percent in December, after remaining flat at 3.8 percent for the previous three months.

Unemployment rates for both counties were lower compared to the same time last year. The unemployment rate was listed at 4.9 percent in Clark County at the same time last year. Champaign County’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent one year ago, according to information from the Ohio DJFS.

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.

Accounting for seasonal factors, both the number of people working or looking for work and number of people considered employed dropped slightly in Clark County, said Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm.

However, yearly trends showed better numbers locally. Last year, the labor force in Clark County increased by 900 and the amount of people working increased by about 1,100, he said.

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“Overall, things are getting a little better,” LaFayette said.

The Springfield metropolitan area saw a net increase of about 200 jobs between 2016 and 2017, a seasonally-adjusted growth rate of about .4 percent. That’s less than the state’s adjusted growth rate of about .9 percent.

Manufacturing was slow to increase jobs both in the U.S. and in Ohio, Lafayette said, especially compared to where it was earlier in the economy’s recovery.

“It certainly hits you where you live,” LaFayette said.

Information from the Ohio DJFS showed Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in November, down slightly from 5.1 percent the previous month. The state’s unemployment rate was 5 percent one year ago.

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Ohio added 38,500 jobs in 2017, which is about 11,200 fewer jobs than in 2016, according to seasonally-adjusted data from ODJFS. Ohio jobs are growing by .7 percent — half the national job growth rate at 1.4 percent.

According to the preliminary data, 2017 was Ohio’s worst year for job growth since the end of the 2007 recession. Ohio peaked in 2014 and has slipped every year since.

“There is no trickle down,” said Hannah Halbert, researcher with Policy Matters Ohio. “Policies that overwhelmingly favor corporations and the rich have made us weaker as a state. Tax cuts for the well-to-do strip revenue from the state so we cannot bring down the cost of higher education, or do enough to prevent and treat opiate addiction.”

A payroll survey from ODJFS indicates about 43,200 private sector jobs were created in 2017. The size of the Ohio labor market increased sharply with Ohioans accounting for more than one out of 10 new people entering into the national labor force, said Rea S. Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at the right-leaning The Buckeye Institute.

“Although Ohio’s unemployment rate did not fall as fast as the national average, almost 90,000 Ohioans entered the labor force, with the national labor force growing by 850,000, meaning that Ohio accounted for more than 10 percent of people entering the national work force,” he said.

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The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in Ohio was about 4.7 percent in December, down from 5 percent a year ago. The state average is still higher than the U.S. rate of about 4.1 percent last month, according to Ohio DJFS data.

Several local businesses announced job fairs earlier this month, including Konecranes and Red Roof Inn. Other businesses, including CareSource and Assurant, will be taking part in another job fair to be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at the Faith United Methodist Church, 102 W. High St.

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