Joblessness tightens its grip

PERKINS TWP. Out of work for about a month, Susan Dumas emerged from Your Job Store clutching a bund
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010



Out of work for about a month, Susan Dumas emerged from Your Job Store clutching a bundle of envelopes.

Dumas, 46, was ready to mail her resume to employers in Erie County, Mansfield, Cleveland and Toledo.

Asked how the job hunt's going, she replied, "It's discouraging, actually."

She's not alone.

The state released numbers Tuesday showing unemployment went up in Erie, Ottawa and Huron counties.

The unemployment rate in Erie County was 7.9 percent in July, up from 5.9 percent in June. It was 8.2 percent in Ottawa County, up from 7.2 percent the month before. And it was 10.7 in Huron County, up from 8.1 percent in June.

Tuesday's numbers came in the wake of last week's announcement that unemployment in Ohio had hit 7.2 percent, up from 6.6 percent in June. Ohio's unemployment rate is now the highest it's been in more than 15 years. The last time it was above 15 percent was in December 1992.

The U.S. unemployment rate in July was 5.7 percent.

Dumas said she has plenty of experience to offer a potential employer.

"I have been a draftsman for close to 20 years, both architectural and civil," she said.

She lost her last job a few weeks ago.

"They downsized, and I was the bottom person," she said.

Dumas said she'll look for a job in her field for about a month before casting her net wider.

"I might go back to school. There are medical jobs all over," she said.

Business has been steady at Your Job Store, the local government agency that helps job seekers. The shop at 5500 Milan Road, next to the Alltel store, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

"We have been maintaining a steady amount of people, around 60 to 70 per day," said Rick Carson, administrator at Your Job Store.

That's been true for about a year, he said. The numbers include repeat customers as well as new job seekers, he said.

Carson said Your Job Store offers help with resumes, job searching, skill assessments, applications, career fairs, specific hiring events and computer searching.

The summer months are traditionally low unemployment months in Erie County because of the local tourist industry, said Mark Litten, executive director of the Erie County Economic Development Corp.

The new statistics suggest the slowing of the state economy has affected Erie County as well, Litten said.

"It seems to be a reflection of the entire state," he said. "The state numbers are going up."

ECEDC has released a new plan for trying to grow jobs in the county.

"It fits in nicely with trying to change our strategy," Litten said. "There are reasons why we're trying to do these things."

Ohio had 430,000 unemployed workers in July, up from 394,000 in June. The 7.2 percent unemployment rate in July compares to a 5.6 percent unemployment rate in July 2007.

The growing unemployment rate in Ohio seems likely to become a political issue.

The Ohio Republican Party issued a news release last week referring to "Gov. Ted Strickland's jobless rate."

"Gov. Strickland is providing no leadership to turn around Ohio's economy," said Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine. "He's offering nothing creative, nothing innovative."

Earlier this year, however, the governor pushed through a $1.57 billion economic stimulus package. The bill included investments into high-tech industries that have the potential to create future jobs but also included $400 million of new money for roads, bridges, sewers and water lines.

Tom Jackson 8/19/08 pullout of county unemployment rates

County Unemployment Rates

County July 2008 June 2008 July 2007

Erie 7.9 5.9 5.6

Huron 10.7 8.1 8.6

Ottawa 8.2 7.2 5.9

Sandusky 7.8 6.3 5.6

Seneca 8.0 6.8 6.0