The Dayton region’s job growth is slowing and ranks among the weakest in the state, and local jobless claims last week soared to the highest level in more than four months, according to two new economic reports.
The slowing growth and surge in claims comes at a time when Montgomery County was moved to purple level 4 ― the highest warning level for COVID-19 spread in the state ― and Warren County is at risk of also getting that designation next week.
Other local counties currently are at alert level 3 (red), which means they have a very high danger of exposure and spread.
The coronavirus downturn began 35 weeks ago, but the pandemic is still raging on and taking a harsh toll on health, lives and the economy, said Bankrate.com’s senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick in a statement.
“After a strong recovery after the steep downturn of March and April, the economy faces heightened risk as we wait for delivery of reportedly effective vaccines providing us reason for real hope,” he said.
Dayton region hiring slows down
The Dayton metro added just new 600 new jobs in October, increasing local employment 0.2% to 370,900 jobs, according to preliminary and not seasonally data released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Toledo was the only metro area in the state that saw weaker job growth last month. The Dayton metro area includes Montgomery, Miami and Greene counties.
The region lost a stunning 45,200 jobs in April. But it added back 8,000 new jobs in May (+2.3%) and 12,700 in June (+3.6%).
The local labor market cooled off after that, gaining 3,000 jobs in July (+0.8%); 1,600 in August (+0.4%) and 1,100 in September (+0.3%).
On Friday, the state released data showing that new jobless claims in the seven-county region last week rose to the highest level since mid-July.
In the week ending Nov. 21, about 3,950 workers in Butler, Champaign, Clark, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties submitted new applications for unemployment benefits, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Clark County was responsible for most of the local increase, because its new claims shot up 326%, from the week before, to 938.
Greene County’s claims increased 23% to 296, while Montgomery County’s increased 16% to 1,476.
In late October, Clark County also saw the largest increase in claims in the state (+240%), which some people said likely stemmed from Navistar temporarily shutting down one of its lines.
The Dayton region saw a smaller decline in employment during the worst month of the coronavirus recession, compared to all of Ohio’s other metro areas.
That means it has a shorter climb back to pre-pandemic job levels. The region has recovered 58% of the jobs it lost during the outbreak.
But Cincinnati, Mansfield and Springfield have gained back more than 68% of the jobs they lost, and Toledo has gained back 63%. Cleveland, Columbus and Akron trail Dayton, and still have a longer climb ahead.
Coronavirus cases are spreading rapidly in the region, and many experts fear winter will lead to explosive growth in infections, as people spend more time indoors.
But many people say they see a light at the end of the tunnel because of the promising early results of multiple potential vaccines.
However, it’s unclear when exactly a vaccine could become available, and new pandemic restrictions and modified behaviors of leery consumers, businesses and workers could lead to additional economic challenges.
“Unfortunately, both for the economy and the well-being of individuals and the businesses employing them, we’re currently stuck in a kind of pandemic purgatory,” said Hamrick, with Bankrate.