Clark, Champaign counties add jobs as state sees solid gains
Posted June 23, 2015 in Selected Press
Clark and Champaign counties both saw job growth in May, part of a trend in which Ohio added about 12,000 jobs overall as the region’s economy continues to slowly recover.
Clark County added 700 jobs last month, a state report released Tuesday shows, while Champaign County added 200 jobs.
The additional jobs were likely the result of the traditional summer hiring season, although local economic development officials said there are signs hiring has continued to pick up across a broad range of industries.
Still, experts also pointed out that Ohio continues to trail much of the nation in growth. Six years into Ohio’s recovery, the state still hasn’t recovered the total number of jobs lost during the Great Recession, said Hannah Halbert, a researcher with left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio.
“We have been recovering,” Halbert said. “It’s just that our recovery has been much slower than the national average.”
A recent report from Policy Matters shows the state still needs to add about 12,600 more jobs to break even since the start of the Great Recession. Most other states recovered all of the jobs lost during the economic slow down last year, she said.
A separate report from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services showed the Springfield metro area added 400 jobs in leisure and hospitality; 200 jobs in trade, transportation and utilities; and 100 jobs in professional and business services.
Despite the job gains, the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.6 percent in Clark County and 4.2 percent in Champaign County because the labor force — the number of people looking for work — also increased, said Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the ODJFS.
“We expect the labor force to grow this time of year,” Johnson said. “We have college and high school graduates entering the labor force, we also have college and high school students who are entering the labor force just for the summer.”
Although seasonal employment typically picks up in May, the region has seen hiring in a broad range of industries, said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield. A recent job fair in downtown Springfield drew more than 50 companies and about 350 people looking for jobs.
“It’s two-fold,” Hobbs said. “It’s seasonal employment certainly but it’s also the direct result of our local employers significantly hiring.”
Employment has picked up in both Clark and Champaign counties compared to the same time last year.About 300 more people are working this year in Champaign County and the unemployment rate fell from 4.7 to 4.2 percent.
The report shows Clark County added 1,300 jobs since May last year, and the unemployment rate fell from 5.2 to 4.6 percent this year.
There is still room for improvement, according to information from Policy Matters Ohio. Ohio’s 12-month job growth of 1.4 percent trails the national average of 2.2 percent.
It’s hard to point to one factor that is leading to a slower recovery, Halbert said. But she said the state could make long-term investments in areas like education and infrastructure that could promote growth.
“That’s the bigger picture is that we’re adding back jobs,” Halbert said. “It’s been incredibly incredibly slow compared with what the national average has been.”
2015 unemployment rates in Clark and Champaign counties
January — 5.5 percent
February — 4.8 percent
March — 4.8 percent
April — 4 percent
May — 4.2 percent
January — 6 percent
February — 5.3 percent
March — 5.2 percent
April — 4.4 percent
May — 4.6 percent
The Springfield News-Sun covers important issues that affect jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties. The paper tracks monthly job numbers released by the state to provide a snapshot of the region’s economic recovery.
Original Article: http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/business/economy...