“Obviously we’re not thrilled being in the Top 10,” said Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis.
Last week, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services released its latest preliminary unemployment figures, which covered October 2018. Scioto County had the third highest unemployment rate of Ohio’s 88 counties, with the number of jobless sitting at 6.1 percent. That was up slightly from the September figure of 5.8 percent, up marginally from the 6 percent scored in October 2017 and well above the state average of 4.6 percent. The county’s number looks even worse compared to the national average of 3.7 percent.
For the record, according to the state, the U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged from September and down from 4.1 percent in October 2017.
Among Ohio’s 88 counties, October 2018 unemployment rates ranged from a low of 2.7 percent in Mercer County to a high of 6.5 percent in Adams County. From September, unemployment rates increased in 84 counties, decreased in one county and did not change in three counties.
Two counties had unemployment rates at or below three percent for the month the county with the lowest rate, other than Mercer was Putnam at an even 3 percent.
Five counties had unemployment rates at or above 6 percent for October. The counties with the highest rates, other than Adams were: Monroe, 6.3 percent; Scioto’s 6.1 percent; and, Pike and Trumbull counties tied with 6 percent.
Scioto County’s workforce was estimated to be about 29,000 last month, with 27,300 gainfully employed. That puts the number of unemployed at about 1,700.
Statewide, the number of workers unemployed in October was 266,000, unchanged from September. The number of unemployed has decreased by 16,000 in the past 12 months from 282,000. The October unemployment rate for Ohio decreased from 4.9 percent in October 2017.
As he has in the past when discussing unemployment issues, Davis pointed to the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The federal site tracks unemployment in the county back to 1990, with the number peaking at 15.8 percent in January 2010. The previous high was 15.4 percent struck way back in January 1992. Five years ago, in October 2013, local unemployment rate sat at 11.5 percent. Davis noted the unemployment rate in the county twice reached a 17-year low of 5.8 percent in the past year.
“That is still too high compared to the national average,” Davis stated. But he argued county officials have taken steps to drive economic development, to bring new jobs in to the area. “We’re not losing jobs anymore, we’re not bleeding jobs like we were in the past.”
Davis contends the county has added jobs in the past year. “But not enough. We’re getting it (the unemployment rate) down. It’s just not low enough yet. But we’ll get there.”
Davis talked a bit about how the county was trying to take advantage of what should be the opening in mid-December of the long talked about Veterans Memorial Highway, a.k.a. the Portsmouth bypass. He said the county completed some related work around the Minford Airport and helped with a water treatment plant in Lucasville. Both were attempts to be ready to welcome any potential companies looking to relocate and take advantage of the bypass.
“Our jobs as commissioners is to create the environment for growth,” Davis said adding they also need to create the infrastructure for growth. Clearly, he believes commissioners are at least heading in the right direction in regard to both those missions.
Preliminary data for November 2018 unemployment rates will be released by the state in late December. December numbers will come out in late January.