While the U.S. economy continued to move forward with last Friday’s announcement of 157,000 new jobs being created, unemployment numbers in local counties continued to lag behind the national average.
According to the U.S. Jobs Report, the national unemployment rate dropped slightly to 3.9 percent.
Highland and Clinton counties were at 6.3 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively, while Brown County was a bit lower at 5.8 percent and Adams County topped out at 7.5 percent.
This time around, though, Highland County’s southern neighbor didn’t lead the jobless numbers.
Monroe County on the West Virginia border had the highest unemployment figure in the state with 7.9 percent, while across the state on the Ohio/Indiana line, Mercer County was well below the national average, coming in at 3.3 percent.
Economists had hoped for a job creation figure closer to the 200,000 mark on Friday. Still, the nation’s unemployment rate dropped slightly from 4 percent last month and the job participation rate remained unchanged at 62.9 percent.
Debora Plymail, director of Ohio Means Jobs for Adams and Brown County, said the latest figures bode well for the region.
“We’re seeing many more local job openings come through our office and they include health care, small manufacturing and, of course, retail,” Plymail said.
Plymail said that more local employers are partnering with her office when it comes to filling open positions, adding “not many of the jobs are real high paying, but they are jobs nonetheless.”
One other problem that employers are finding is a sign of the times — finding employees who can pass the pre-employment drug test. Some companies are easing up on rigid skills requirements and waiving the necessity of a high school diploma if the applicant will pursue completion of a GED, Plymail said.
Other employers have even begun to give job seekers with “minor” jail time on their record a second chance, according to newsmax.com.
But the Wall Street Journal said it was universal among employers that if the applicant can’t pass the pre-employment drug test, they won’t get hired.
Tim Colliver can be reached at 937-402-2571.