With a nationwide labor shortage and seemingly every business posting ads for help, how does the county of Guernsey and the businesses serving this community compare?
The unemployment rate in October 2021 was 4.4% in Guernsey County. This year, October data shows an unemployment rate of 4.5%. This number shows a slight increase from September, when it was 4.1%. At this time of year, a jump like this is normal considering seasonal employment and layoffs, officials said. Construction workers and highway workers account for some of this increase, as companies typically wait until spring to resume these positions and projects.
“We don’t usually see the ups and downs of layoffs and hiring that other communities may be experiencing. The last major layoff in Guernsey County was around 2010,” according to Sue Sikora of Guernsey County Job. and Family Services (JFS). She attributes this to many factors, including Guernsey County’s prime location between two major highways, a strong commodity-based manufacturing industry, a strong healthcare base and a growing hospitality industry.
While the actual unemployment rate of 4.5% is what’s being reported, Sikora said it’s important to note that the figure can be misleading. The rate only counts active job seekers and not those who have left the labor market for various reasons.
“In the county of Guernsey, we estimate that we have 17,700 people who we would consider eligible to work out of a population of around 39,000. Of these 17,700 people, 16,900 are actually working. When you think of around 800 unemployed, it’s not bad,” Sikora said. . Persons who are not eligible for unemployment are not counted in the estimated number of eligible workers.
The region’s largest employers, Detroit Diesel (which currently operates three teams), AMG Vanadium and the Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center, all of which are hiring for a variety of positions. According to census data, Southeast Ohio’s population rates show a steady decline over the past several years, which significantly affects the available workforce. People are moving from Guernsey County to larger, more metropolitan areas. “We have more vacancies than people available to work,” Sikora added.
Part of this desire to move comes from larger areas being able to offer more money and local amenities to potential applicants. The opening of Amazon warehouses and the arrival of the Intel factory in Licking County are the kinds of things that tend to drive more people away from the area.
Metropolitan areas and those with larger retail businesses often see a drop in their unemployment rate during the holiday season due to an increase in retail work. Contrary to what larger communities see, the business aspect of vacation employment generally does not affect local statistics. “The retail work you see in Guernsey County tends to be part-time until January 1, but that’s not enough to have a significant impact on our unemployment rate,” Sikora said.
One of the factors faced by local employers is having to recruit regionally. Employers are looking outside the region to attract workers, mainly due to a lack of labor and candidates. The positive side of this is that employers are forced to become competitive with wages, insurance and amenities.
While regional salaries have increased during the pandemic, with various benefits offered and many remote positions, those numbers have since leveled off.
“Hiring is expensive. Young job seekers today are really looking for that work-life balance. They want to be satisfied with their jobs, they want to be respected and appreciated by their employers, and they want benefits,” added Sikora.
Social media campaigns have been instrumental for Guernsey County JFS in spreading employment opportunities in the area. Another benefit offered to Guernsey County residents is JFS funded training. Those who fall under the federal poverty guidelines can reach out and inquire about receiving training and possible financial assistance for education in order to re-enter the workforce or enter a new industry. for the first time.
Those looking for work can find current openings at www.ohiomeanjobs.com. Jobs are posted daily and cover a large area. The grouping that comprises the county of Guernsey covers a large area, spanning 25 counties including Ross, Scioto, Belmont and Carroll counties. In October alone, 13.72 jobs were posted in Southeast Ohio, with about 50 listed here in Guernsey County. Sikora noted, “We all have similar demographics and similar industries. Southeast Ohio is mostly a blue-collar type industrial area and that shows in the numbers.”
As residents grapple with inflation and the rising cost of living, the outlook may look bleak for the year ahead, but it’s not. That’s not what the numbers show. “We have remained solid with our unemployment rate, even at this time of year. When other counties see rates increase, our rate will likely remain unchanged through the holidays and through the winter. Wages are strong and healthy in our community and I believe Guernsey County is doing well for 2023,” Sikora said.
People looking for employment opportunities are encouraged to contact Guernsey County Employment and Family Services and visit the website www.ohiomeansjob.com.