Census data: County still shows growth

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

The number of people calling Lawrence County home is on the rise but the number of residents filing unemployment claims also rose slightly during January.

Figures released from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services shows Lawrence County’s unemployment rate rose from 5.0 in December 2005 to 5.6 a month later. Still, January’s figures are better than they were one year ago. In January 2005, Lawrence County’s jobless rate was 6.6.

Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Greater Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, said while 6.6 percent is better than jobless rates posted in previous years, it is still not good enough and efforts are being made not only to stimulate the area’s economy, but to bring in better paying jobs as well.

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“Our people are working because they are good workers, but we still don’t have jobs at a desirable pay level. We need jobs for our people that have full benefits, at a salary they can raise a family on, that allow for a better quality of life,” he said.

Lawrence County continues to fare better than most of its southeast Ohio neighbors.

For the same time period, Scioto’s jobless rate was 8.5, an increase from 8.0 in December; Jackson County’s January jobless rate was 7.7, an increase of more than one percentage point the previous month. Meigs County’s unemployment rate in January was 10.3, jumping more than a full percentage point as well.

Gallia’s unemployment rate also increased a percentage point from December 2005 to January, jumping from 6.2 to 7.2 percent.

On a brighter note, the Lawrence County’s population is on the increase as well.

Estimates released last week from the U.S. Census Bureau show Lawrence County’s population increased by 793 between 2000 and 2005. That is larger than the population growth posted for the 10-year span between 1990 and 2000.

Census figures show Lawrence County’s population grew eight-tenths of a percent between 1990 and 2000, from 61,836 to 62,319.

“We have been monitoring the growth in our population,” Dingus said. “We’ve been growing and I think we will continue to grow. Most of this growth has been relegated to the rural areas of our county and the eastern and central parts of Lawrence County. We have not seen the growth we would like to see in the western end and we need to develop projects to stimulate that.”

In the 1960s and 1970s, the number of people calling Lawrence County home had steadily increased. But with plant closings and an economic downturn, the county lost 2,015 people between 1980 and 1990.

In comparison, federal estimates for 2000-2005 show Scioto’s population fell more than 3 percent. Jackson posted a gain of 885 people, Gallia’s population jumped by 293 residents and Meigs’ population increased by 160 people.

Lawrence County may well be bucking a bit of a Tri-State trend. Both Cabell County, W.Va., and Boyd County, Ky., posted estimated population losses for 2000-2005.