More people employed, looking for work in Clark, Champaign counties in August

Clark and Champaign counties saw more people looking for work between July and August even though the unemployment rates stayed relatively the same.

The unemployment rate in Clark County went from 8.5% to 8.3% between those months, while it went from 7% to 7.1% in Champaign County. However, more people living in those counties were either looking for work or were listed as employed in August.

The labor force, which tallies the number of people both looking for work or employed, was listed as 63,900 for Clark County during August. That represented an 800 person increase compared the previous month. The number of people employed in the county in August was 58,600, an increase from the 57,700 reported in July.

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For Champaign County, the labor force went from 19,600 to 19,900 during those months. The number of people employed also increased during that time, going from 18,200 to 18,500.

However, adding seasonal factors into the unemployment rate, including historical trends, there was an increase in Clark County between July and August, with the rate going from 8% to 8.4%.

“(The unemployment rate) went up in spite of the fact that you had more people working. It went up because of an increase in the labor force. More people are looking for work," said Bill LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm.

However, the number of Clark County residents listed as employed went up by 400 when compared to what is usually seen between July and August, LaFayette added.

Traditionally, fewer people are employed between those two months due to a decrease in seasonal employment as well as college students going back to work.

Based on those same historic trends, the overall labor force in Clark County went up by 700 people between July and August. In terms of the coronavirus pandemic, it could mean that people are becoming more comfortable starting the job search again, LaFayette said.

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The coronavirus has had an impact on the Clark and Champaign labor forces as well as both counties unemployment rates. Both saw a surge between March and April, with that rate going from 5.3% to 17.4% in Clark County and 4.6% to 20.1% in Champaign County.

Local economies are still impacted by the pandemic. A statewide stay-at-home order that was implemented towards the end of March also played a part. Though portions of Ohio’s economy have reopened since May, many businesses had to alter their operations since March.

However, LaFayette said that there are signs of progress. However, economic recovery will be slow.

Data released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in July showed that Clark County lost 5,900 jobs in April and had since added back less than 41% of those jobs.

By the numbers:

8.3%: August unemployment rate for Clark County

58,600: Number of residents listed as employed

63,900: Number of residents employed or looking for work

7.1%: August unemployment rate for Champaign County

18,500: Number of residents listed as employed

19,900: Number of residents employed or looking for work

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