Unemployment rate jumps in Clark County

Jobs still available at Yamada, Navistar, others.

The unemployment rate in Clark County increased to 5 percent last month, the highest its been since March, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

>>RELATED: Unemployment rates down in May

>>MORE JOBS COVERAGE: As economy recovers, temp workers double in Clark County

When adjusted for seasonal jobs, the rates show that both the number of people looking for jobs and the number of people working dropped, said Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm.

“Fewer people in Clark County are looking for work … Not good news,” he said.

The numbers will likely remain steady over the next two months, but will drop when people go back to school in the fall because those students are no longer looking for work, LaFayette said.

The non-adjusted total labor force numbers increased by 100 to 64,500 last month, increasing from 64,400 in May. The number is about 700 less than the county should be seeing, which indicates a degree of pessimism from the labor force, LaFayette said.

“People aren’t looking for work, possibly, because they don’t think they’ll find it,” LaFayette said.

In Champaign County, the unemployment rate rose a half-percent, up to 4.4 percent last month. The rate was 3.9 percent in May.

In Ohio, the unemployment rate — not adjusted for seasonal jobs — increased to 4.9 percent in June. In May, the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent, the lowest it had been this year. In January, Ohio’s unemployment rate was at 5.7 percent.

Navistar is expected to hire about 600 workers as part of a new deal to build GM vans and trucks at its facility on Ohio 72. Several other manufacturers are hiring, including Honda parts suppliers such as St. Paris-based KTH and South Charleston-based Yamada North America.

As aging manufacturing workers leave the workforce, companies will look for qualified individuals to fill those jobs, LaFayette said. Local workforce development agencies must begin preparing workers to fill those jobs in the future, he said.

While the rate increased in Clark County, Deputy Director of OhioMeansJobs Clark County Lehan Peters said 5 percent is still great.

“There’s a lot of jobs and a lot of opportunities available,” Peters said. “I encourage people to use the resources available. We have a lot more employers hiring direct.”

Yamada is hosting open interviews from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the Ohio Means Job Center, 1345 Lagonda Ave. The company is directly hiring for all full-time positions and all shifts, Peters said. Wages start at up to $26 per hour, including for positions such as production associates, die cast machine operators and maintenance technicians.

The state recently sent an e-mail blast to several surrounding counties, Peters said, which has people interested in positions with the manufacturer.

“The phone has just been blowing up today,” Peters said. “That’s a good thing.”

Yamada held a job fair last weekend in downtown Springfield and hired about 15 people, Human Resources Director Jackie Bohn said. The job market is geared toward job seekers and companies are battling for qualified employees, she said.

“If you get an application in and you don’t get to it within 48 to 72 hours, sometimes they’ve already got a call from another place,” Bohn said.

OhioMeansJobs Clark County also serves as the main recruiter for both Navistar and Red Roof Inn. The organization has been extending hours during weekdays and opening on Saturdays.

As the recession ends, more people are looking to improve their job status, Peters said.

“We may be pulling from individuals who may be in lower-paying jobs who want a change,” Peters said. “We’re trying to make sure there’s access for people who want a change. The workforce has been tremendous. The caliber has been really top quality.”

Navistar plans to fill 300 jobs by the end of the year, Peters said. For more information, call the OhioMeansJobs Center at 937-327-1961.

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