Area sees shortage in skilled workers as jobless rate falls

Local employment agencies are struggling to find skilled workers for companies as the unemployment rate in area counties and Dayton shrinks.

The jobless rate fell across the Miami Valley in July after a slight increase in June. In Montgomery County, the unemployment rate slid to 4.7 percent from 4.9 percent in July as the number of unemployed fell by 1,300 to 12,000, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

In Dayton, the July unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent from 6 percent in June as the number of people unemployed in the city fell by 300 to 3,400,

Doug Barry, president of Barry Staff, said his employment agency is seeing an issue in the Miami Valley that they have not seen in awhile — a lack of workers in the region.

Barry said that as more businesses and corporations enter the Miami Valley, more jobs need to be filled.

“We’ve had a severe shortage of employees,” he said. “There is a shortage of skilled workers. But I have employers say, ‘Show me someone with initiative and I can show them what to do.’”

Miami and Greene counties also saw their jobless rates fall as hiring picked up steam. Unemployment in Miami County fell to 4.1 percent last month from 4.3 percent in June. Meanwhile, Greene County posted a July unemployment rate of 4.3 percent, down from 4.5 percent in the previous month.

City and county rates are not adjusted for seasonal hiring trends, and, therefore, are not comparable to the state rate, which dropped to 4.8 percent from 5 percent in June, the state jobs department reported earlier this month.

Barry said the agency is targeting unemployed people, and even people who have never entered the workforce.

“There are people who have never been in the workforce,” he said. “They don’t know how to get jobs.”

Among the state’s 88 counties, preliminary July 2016 unemployment rates ranged from a low of 3.1 percent in Mercer County to a high of 9.9 percent in Monroe County. From June, unemployment rates decreased in 67 counties, increased in 8 counties, and did not change in 13 counties.

The number of unemployed Ohio workers fell by 13,000 to 278,000, down from 291,000 in June, according to last week’s jobs report. Still, the number of Ohio workers unemployed last month is higher than it was a year ago when there were 267,000 jobless workers state and the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent.

For the year-to-date, Ohio’s economy has added 78,800 jobs, and the state’s 12-month employment growth rate, 1.5 percent.

“While the numbers show some welcome job gains, what is missing from Ohio’s recovery is consistently solid job growth,” said Hannah Halbert, a labor market researcher with the left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio.

Halbert noted that since the start of the recession, the nation has added jobs at an annual rate of 4.4 percent, while Ohio has average only 1.6 percent annual job growth.

“Our overall progress has been very slow,” Halbert said.

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