Huron County job prospects looking up

NORWALK As Tammy Headlee can attest, the job situation in Huron County is improving.
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010



As Tammy Headlee can attest, the job situation in Huron County is improving.

Unemployment in the county dropped to 17.5 percent in March -- down a half percent from February and down 0.8 percent from January, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Two months of job hunting was finally rewarded when Headlee, 39, of Willard was offered an $8.25-per-hour packaging job at Pepperidge Farm through Spherion, an employment agency.

"It didn't look good. I didn't know if I'd get hired or not," Headlee said. "People got to keep trying and not give up."

She is not the only one celebrating finding work.

With the local tourism industry just starting to pick up, some employers are advertising job openings for the first time in months. Construction work, too, is coming out of a winter hibernation, and local contractors are back in business.

Huron County ranked 58th in the U.S. for unemployment in February with an 18-percent unemployment rate, according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. National figures were not available Tuesday, but it is likely Huron County still ranked among the top 100 U.S. counties for unemployment in March.

Ottawa County ranked No. 2 in Ohio for unemployment in March with a 16.3 percent rate. Erie County had 12.3 percent unemployment, and Sandusky County had 12.6 percent.

Though Huron County has led in unemployment in Ohio for four months straight, more job opportunities are opening up in the region because of the approach of summer, said Sue terVeen, Huron County Job Store assistant.

"More people are obtaining employment and a lot more people are getting interviews, too," terVeen said.

For the past several months, only about eight people each month who visited the Job Store found employment, terVeen said. That's a fraction of the more than 120 people who visit the Job Store each day.

With more than a week left in April, terVeen is optimistic this month's tally will break double digits.

So far, nine visitors to the Job Store have found jobs this month. Two were hired just this week; Headlee was one of the two.

Not everyone had such good news this week.

In fact, state data didn't need to tell Elizabeth Collins, 22, of Clarksfield that unemployment is incredibly high in this region -- she learned firsthand.

A graduate of Cuyahoga Community College with an associate degree in small business and human resources, Collins was overqualified for the jobs she applied for at fast-food chains and retail outlets.

Even so, interviews with the companies did not lead to job offers.

Only Cedar Point offered her a photography job -- an $8-per-hour position that doesn't begin until next month.

The drive from her home to Cedar Point takes 40 minutes. She didn't sound optimistic that a search for work closer to home would be successful.

Her husband, Chad Collins, 24, is also looking for work. He wants to be a cop, but needs training. He hopes the Workforce Investment Act will pay for it.

If it doesn't, he's willing to compromise.

"If I can't get help becoming certified as a police officer, then I'll take whatever job I can get -- whatever is there and available," Chad Collins said.