The increases in the unemployment rate for both counties during April came as the coronavirus pandemic and measures designed to slow the spread at the state level caused an immediate economic impact.
A statewide order in March called for the closing of businesses that were deemed nonessential. Those that were allowed to remain open had to make adjustments or temporarily suspend operation. The latter was largely attributed to either a lack of customers or because of shortfalls in the supply chain.
The state began reopening portions of its economy in May. Businesses that were deemed nonessential or had temporarily closed due to other factors began reopening throughout that month and in June.
More people were listed as employed or looking for work in Clark and Champaign counties in June when compared to May. However, the total number of people employed in those counties is still down when compared to March.
The number of people employed or looking for work in Clark County in June was 64,600, with 57,900 people being listed as having some form of employment. Those numbers in May was 63,600, with 55,700 being listed as employed.
However, the number of people actively looking for work in June is down from April.
In Champaign County, the labor force in June, which tracks employment and those actively looking for work, was 20,100 with 18,300 being employed. In May, the county’s labor force was 19,700 with 17,500 being employed.
However, the number of people employed in Clark County in the beginning of March was 60,300 and that number in Champaign County was 19,200.
“If things continue to reopen and we don’t have a shutdown again, we might see an increase in the unemployment rate even as more people are going back to work,” said Bill LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm.
“It depends on the number of people gong back to work and the number of people looking for work. An increase (in the unemployment rate) in that kind of setting would not be bad thing, but a good thing. Because it indicates that more people are comfortable enough to look for work,” he added.