Jobless numbers vary among experts

Those keeping track of employment in the Valley say now that the recession has passed, there’s a wide range of demand for certain types of workers.

“We continue to see a strong need in the manufacturing arena. We see a need for skilled labor, a lot of welders, machinists, things of that nature,” said Bert Cene of the Mahoning Columbiana Training Association. “The transportation industry, I think with the shale industry, we’re seeing an uptick in the number of truck drivers that are needed in a lot of areas.”

That need could be occurring all around the state.

New figures from the Department of Job and Family Services claim Ohio’s unemployment rate fell to 6.5 percent last month, which was its lowest mark in nearly six years. That was down 0.4 percent from February. Specific county numbers will not be available until next week.

But not everyone is buying the state figure.

“We should be very skeptical of those unemployment figures this month. They do not match what we know is actually going on,” said Cleveland economist George Zeller.

Zeller claims another survey, known as the “Current Economic Statistic” shows Ohio actually lost 4,600 jobs last month, led by sizable declines in government hiring and construction. One of the bright spots is that manufacturing jobs increased.

“And further, February was the 16th month in a row when Ohio’s job growth has been below the national average,” Zeller said.

Zeller said while the CES surveys 20,000 Ohio companies, the state’s figures come from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics and don’t focus on any specific area of the country.

“They just take anybody who happens to live in Ohio who showed up in the national sample and from that, they provide an estimate of what Ohio’s unemployment rate was,” Zeller said.

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