Unemployment rates worsen in Clark, Champaign counties

Deb Dasher, from Springfield City Schools, is surrounded by people as she talks about job opportunities at the Chamber of Greater Springfield and OhioMeansJobs Clark County job fair . Bill Lackey/Staff
Caption
Deb Dasher, from Springfield City Schools, is surrounded by people as she talks about job opportunities at the Chamber of Greater Springfield and OhioMeansJobs Clark County job fair . Bill Lackey/Staff

Unemployment rates crept up in Clark and Champaign counties in July, according to information released Tuesday from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

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Clark County’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in July, up from 5.2 percent the previous month. The county’s unemployment rate was also higher compared with the same time last year, when the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent.

Champaign County’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in July. That’s also higher than last year, when the unemployment rate was 4.8 percent.

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Most of the change in Clark and Champaign counties can be attributed to seasonal hiring patterns, said Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm. For the most part, he said the job situation in both counties has remained relatively flat compared to last year.

In Clark County, the unemployment rate rose despite the fact that more people were listed as working, LaFayette said. That’s partially because the size of the labor force, which includes both people working and looking for work, also grew over the past year.

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“The current employment stats for the year so far are pretty steady,” LaFayette said.

Statewide, the unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in July compared to 4.9 percent one year ago. County unemployment rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal factors like hiring patterns, so aren’t easily compared to the same information from the state.

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Some parts of Ohio like Cincinnati and Columbus have seen better economic growth, while parts of Southeast Ohio have struggled, said Rea Hederman Jr., executive vice president of the Buckeye Institute, a conservative think tank.

Clark County has remained relatively stable, but its growth has lagged other some counties in the region in recent years, he said.

“Not just Ohio, but even with some of our neighbors, economic growth has dropped slightly in the past few months compared to part of last year and the early part of 2017,” Hederman said. “We’re growing, but we’re growing at a slower rate.”

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The most recent July report showed weak economic growth for Ohio, Hederman said, but it’s still too early to be alarmed.

“I’m concerned about it but I’m not panicked because quite frankly it’s a one-month snapshot,” Hederman said. “One month of labor data is very volatile. We shouldn’t be panicking until we see this level of softness for a few months in a row.”


By the numbers:

Clark County

January — 5.9 percent

February — 5.6 percent

March — 4.8 percent

April — 4.1 percent

May — 4.4 percent

June — 5.2 percent

July — 5.7 percent

Champaign County

January — 4.9 percent

February — 4.6 percent

March — 4 percent

April — 3.5 percent

May — 3.7 percent

June — 4.4 percent

July — 5.1 percent

Complete coverage

The Springfield News provides in-depth coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties, including tracking monthly unemployment rates and a new Topre America auto parts plant under construction in Springfield.

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