Employment measure still flawed

Published 10:34 am Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ohio’s unemployment shows both the positives and negatives of how the state — and ultimately the entire nation — compiles a statistical measure that serves as a barometer for our economy.

Although Ohio’s rate of 8.1 percent compares very favorably among Ohio’s 88 counties, ranking third lowest, it also shows a flaw in how the information is determined and compiled.

It is even lower than the national unemployment rate of 9.5 percent, which uses the same measuring techniques.

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But common sense and basic understanding of our community shows that this measure is flawed.

Most of the data comes from surveys and forms. These may not always be the most accurate representation of the demographics of a community or a county. Also, it does nothing to account for people who are under-employed, essentially working a job that doesn’t even allow them to pay the bills, or those who remain below the poverty threshold.

Those are issues that the state and federal governments must begin to take into consideration if they ever want to understand accurately the economic challenges facing our small towns and our communities.

It is great to say that nearly everyone is employed. But the reality is many of those people are in low-paying jobs that don’t meet their needs. We hope to see this change in the future, opening the door to better distribution of state and federal assistance as well as job creation and training programs.

We should be proud that Lawrence County’s unemployment rate is so low since everyone right now is using the same measuring stick.

But we shouldn’t allow this to skew us from seeing the truth. Our region faces many challenges and has much room for improvement when it comes to keeping people working jobs that can support a family.