Despite creating only 75,000 jobs in May, the labor department said the national economy is still robust with no change in the unemployment rate, and little change as well in the number of those without a job. But Rhonda Fannin, Highland County Community Action director of workforce services/Ohio Means Jobs, said the workforce in Highland County has actually decreased in the last decade by better than 10 percent.
“So while there seems to be plenty of employment opportunities in and around Highland County, I think what we’re really seeing is a decreased number of available workers,” she said. “At a recent training seminar I attended hosted by the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association, they noted that for new workers, companies are going to have to attract employees from three pools of candidates: veterans, high schools, and the prisons.”
Fannin’s assessment parallels what the U.S. Department of Labor has been saying since the first of the year, in that there were close to one million more jobs available than workers to fill them.
She said companies are searching for answers as to why employees leave, and that “aging-out” is a very real reason for some employers locally.
“We all remember the devastating loss of over 10,000 jobs over the course of three years with the closure of a major employer in Clinton County,” she said. “It’s unclear if the decrease in our local labor force is a result of residents aging out of the labor force, moving out of the area, or exiting for some other reason.”
According to the latest numbers available from the Ohio Means Jobs Highland County website, there were 1,244 employment opportunities within 20 miles of the 45133 zip code, as well as 208 jobs available within a five-mile radius of that same zip code.
The labor force participation rate, which the labor department regards as a reflection of the total number of employees in the work force 16 years of age and older, remained unchanged in May at 62.8 percent.
That figure is down from the pre-Great Recession peak of 66 percent, which the National Bureau of Economic Research said was measured in the fourth quarter of 2007.
The labor department said that while hiring rose, the number of people quitting their jobs rose as well.
According to CBS News, “quits” are a sign of a healthy economy because people typically leave one job for another, usually for better pay.
Job openings began to outpace the number of those unemployed for the first time in the 18 years the data has been tracked, the network stated.
Other takeaway’s from the latest jobs report showed that the unemployment rates for adult men and women, teenagers and various ethnic groups had little or no change for May.
While employment showed continued upward gains in professional and business services, and health care, the report showed little change in May for jobs in construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information technologies, financial, leisure and hospitality and government.
In Highland County, Fannin said, The Jobs Report website indicated that there were job gains in the areas of professional and business services, and health care, aligning with the national trends.
The website also presented numbers on those persons who are “marginally attached” to the workforce and those who are not.
Fannin said those defined as marginally attached were not in the labor force, but wanted, were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months, but were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.
“This has always seemed to be a conversational topic around unemployment numbers, most notably because we have known or know individuals who no longer receive unemployment compensation, are not working, and are therefore no longer counted in the unemployment numbers,” she said. “If these individuals were to be counted in the unemployment rate, then the result would obviously be a much higher percentage.”
Ohio Means Jobs Highland County offers many career and workplace ready workshops, free to the public, Fannin said, and she invited residents to see its monthly calendar at www.omjhighlandcounty.com/news/workshop-calendar.
Active job listings to match job seekers with employers can be searched at www.omjhighlandcounty.com/category/jobs.
The agency is also on Facebook at Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. and Ohio Means Jobs Highland County.
The next check on the nation’s economy from the labor department is scheduled to be released Friday, July 5 at 8:30 a.m.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.