Jobless rate not everything

Published 10:46 am Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Statistics are only as good as the context in which they are presented. And sometimes the numbers can paint a different picture than reality.

According to figures released last week by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Lawrence County’s October unemployment rate was 5.7 percent, down from September’s 6.2 percent, and that was a decrease from the 6.4 percent the county posted in August.

Lawrence County continues to fare better than many of its Appalachian neighbors. Both Meigs and Pike counties had October jobless rates of more than 10 percent. Scioto County’s jobless rate in October was 9.1 percent; Ross County’s unemployment rate was 8.8 percent.

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These numbers are something the county can be proud of and is certainly a positive trend for a region that has a workforce that is willing to work.

However, we hope economic leaders don’t put too much stock into these statistics because the reality is that many in Lawrence County are either unemployed or working in a job that barely pays the bills.

Keeping the unemployment rate low is something that we hope continues but having people employed shouldn’t create complacency.

Our region still has much room to improve in terms of attracting better, high-paying jobs that offer quality benefit packages and the opportunity for its employees to grow and better themselves within the company.

That will be the next step needed for our region — and its workforce — to better itself and maintain the quality of life that everyone aspires to achieve.

The first key is to get our citizens employed. The next step will be to make sure that those jobs are the type that families can live on.