High Jobless Numbers Persist in Ohio's Rural, Suburban Communities

The unemployment rate in Fairfield County, OH, dropped to 4.3% in October. Its high was 14% in April 2020. Corey Clark, who is the County Chief Deputy Director of Workforce Development says that this is a dynamic the county has never seen before. There is a high level of unemployment, yet there are also a lot of unfilled jobs. The pandemic is contributing to the situation, and Ohio's caseload has surged in the past month. However, county officials say that there are good-paying jobs out there, and people need to apply for them.

Current Jobless Numbers in Fairfield County

There are about 3,300 people currently unemployed and on unemployment compensation in Fairfield County. However, the county also has thousands of job openings that are seeing little traffic. County officials are trying to figure out what they and employers can do to move the unemployed people into the open jobs.

Available Job Opportunities in Fairfield County

Fairfield County currently has a wide variety of available jobs. The Anchor Hocking company has more than 100 open positions. The pay starts at $16.06 per hour, and there are shift differentials. Anchor Hocking is a glassware manufacturer. One county official said that the $600 federal unemployment stipend, which ended in July, caused a lot of people to not bother looking for a job. Ohio was able to add federal funding for $300 for additional unemployment benefits for individuals in the state after the $600 stipends ended. The additional $300 per week is slated to end by the end of December.

What Government Officials Think Is the Cause of Ongoing High Unemployment

Republican state officials say that there has been a disincentive for people to go back to work. They got an extra $600 for four months, followed by an extra $300 for the past four months. A lot of people were bringing in more money each week from unemployment than at the jobs they used to have or at any job they would qualify for. The response of Democrats in the state is that if employers paid a living wage, people would have more of an incentive to return to jobs outside of their homes.

What Fairfield County Residents Say About the High Unemployment Rate

Residents of Fairfield County say that the views of Democratic and Republican officials are not the whole story as to why the unemployment numbers are still in the thousands in their communities. One person said that childcare was their biggest concern. Their childcare closed for months, then reopened with a limited capacity. They didn't get a slot when it reopened, and they've had a hard time finding a quality childcare provider with an opening so that they can return to work. Another resident cited the flip flopping of schools. Schools in many Ohio communities started remotely, then some transitioned to full- or hybrid-learning models. As Ohio's case numbers began to surge in November, a lot of those schools had to close and return to remote learning again. That leaves parents in a bind. A parent can't leave their elementary school child at home alone all day and expect the child to be safe and logged into remote learning. Even parents of middle school students noted that their kids need regular help with technology issues and assignments during the day.

Fear of COVID-19 Infection Still Ranks High

Regardless of whether a person has children, many people are still avoiding returning to work because of the risk of COVID-19 infection. When a person starts a new job, they don't get paid time off. Their health insurance might not kick in for 30 days. For parents, they don't know if their child will be learning remotely at home next month or in a school building some of the time or all of the time. For such individuals, making a decision is difficult.

The Promise of a Vaccine

There has been positive news recently about COVID-19 vaccines. Ohio will use its first deliveries for healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff and other institutionalized people. As the vaccine gets into the mainstream population of Fairfield County residents, people may feel better about going back to work. Residents of the county can visit the website ohiomeansjobs.com to peruse the 190,000 job listings from employers throughout the state. Many of those jobs pay more than $50,000 per year, and there are jobs that don't require a college degree.

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