The number of new and continuing jobless claims in Ashtabula County doubled in the week ending September 18 from their totals for the previous week, according to information from the Department of Employment and Family. from Ohio.
There were 86 new jobless claims and 762 pending jobless claims for the week ending Sept. 18, according to the ODJFS. For the week ending September 11, there were 45 new jobless claims and 364 pending claims.
The 409 total unemployment claims for the week ending September 11 is the lowest number of claims since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the ODJFS.
The surge in unemployment claims in Ashtabula County reflects a statewide increase. Continuous unemployment claims have almost doubled, from 52,156 to 101,260 in one week, according to the ODJFS. New claims have also increased by around 50 percent.
ODJFS spokesman Bill Teets said the increase in continued claims is mainly due to the end of the Emergency Unemployment Pandemic Compensation program earlier this month. Claims from people who tried to make PEUC claims for weeks after September 4 would have been characterized as traditional continuous unemployment claims, Teets said.
He said he expects the problem to resolve as people realize they can no longer apply for PEUC claims.
Greg Myers, executive director of Ashtabula Growth Partnership, said employers he spoke to struggled to find quality candidates and employees who don’t quit.
The problem of finding people to work is mirrored across the country, Myers said.
“We are not immune from this,” he said.
The county’s unemployment rate is still relatively low, Myers said. For August, the most recent data available, Ashtabula County’s unemployment rate was 5.7%, according to the ODJFS.
The county’s labor force participation rate, which shows the number of people in the workforce, is declining, Myers said.
“This is, for me, the biggest issue that we tend to focus on at Growth Partnership,” he said.
There are a lot of opportunities out there, and there is a high demand for employees right now, Myers said.
“We are actively working on different strategies to try to increase this pool of candidates and qualified candidates for our local businesses,” he said. “There’s no easy answer, and it’s a long-term process for sure.