Ohio Gains Jobs To Put Small Dent In Unemployment.

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The most recent figures from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services indicates job growth is accelerating. Ohio added 37-thousand jobs last month, more than any other state. But, future job gains in Central Ohio will hinge, in part, on efforts to attract jobs, and individuals’ readiness to accept available work. WOSU’s Tom Borgerding reports.

“It certainly is an employer’s market.”

Suzanne Coleman-Tolbert is head of the Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation. The agency, funded mostly by the federal Department of Labor, works with both job seekers and potential employers. She says despite the recent job growth in Ohio its still hard for the unemployed to find work.

“The job market is still very, very tight. Although we are beginning to see some companies opening up and starting to call people back for interviews.”

Coleman-Tolbert says its mostly small businesses with perhaps one to ten entry level job openings that are beginning to hire again. More robust regional job growth depends, in part, on efforts by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. When a potential employer looks at Central Ohio, Chamber vice-president Steve Tugend says the organization wants to help close the deal.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that government sets forth the right public policies that create a good environment for business growth and attraction to our region.”

Tugend says three factors are critical when a potential employer is considering locating in Columbus, Franklin County, or one of the surrounding counties.

“Its clearly the workforce, the ability to fill the jobs that you are going to bring to the region. Its clearly cost. You don’t want to pay more than you need to pay to open your facility and to operate your facility. And then, clearly it’s environment. You don’t want to subject yourself to all kinds of legal and regulatory liabilities that you wouldn’t otherwise subject yourself to if you located elsewhere.” Says Tugend. Steve Schoeny, a principal at S-Z-D Whiteboard, says front-end cost factors can quickly derail a deal to bring employers to Ohio. Schoeny says Ohio is at a disadvantage in the competition for more jobs often because it lacks the financial incentives available in other states.

“Many other states have larger funds with which to go after projects and put the upfront cash in. It’s a challenge budgetarily..its primarily a challenge budgetarily. Ohio’s in a position where its hard to get the kind of funds that are necessary.”

Schoeny and chamber officials worry that that lack of funds might put a drag on job creation efforts in the future. If Ohio and Columbus keep adding jobs, the competition for those new jobs will likely intensify. Even with the creation of 37-thousand jobs last month, the number of unemployed workers in Ohio totaled 652,000. Back at the Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation, Suzanne Coleman-Tolbert says she’s noticed a willingness among job-seekers to expand their job search and sometimes take what’s offered.

“People have gotten to the point where they’re desperate. And many of them who had their unemployment benefits extended know that they’re getting ready to run out very quickly. So the whole job search and willingness to at least drive a couple of more miles for an interview has become very critical to them. They’re beginning to lose their housing, their automobiles, their internet services, their phones, I mean just the basic things that we take for granted everyday when we get up and get ready to go to work.”

Coleman-Tolbert says people now are willing to drive about an hour to get to a job.

Tom Borgerding WOSU News