Bobby Carroll

Despite an increase in unemployment in Ohio, Oxford’s economy remains untouched relative to areas cities.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported Sept. 19 that unemployment rose to 7.4 percent in 2008, a 1.7 percent rise since August of 2007.

“If you go back from 1999 to 2003, the state unemployment trend mirrored the national rate, but from the middle of 2003 to the present, the numbers have changed,” said Brian Harter, a public information officer for the ODJFS.

The national unemployment rate was 6.1 percent as of August 2008, according to statistics on the U.S. Department of Labor Web site.

According to the ODJFS news release, the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in August was 445,000, up from 339,000 a year ago.

“I would say our numbers are significant, but it is due in large part to a loss in manufacturing jobs,” Harter said. “What we are focused on right now is re-educating the workforce, because the jobs we lost aren’t coming back.”

The ODJFS also released a full list of where each county in Ohio ranks in unemployment. Out of 88 counties, Butler County ranked 62nd with an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent.

According to data from the ODJFS, there are currently six counties in Ohio with unemployment rates at or above 10.2 percent.

Despite rising unemployment in other cities in Butler County, Alan Kyger, Oxford economic development director, said Oxford’s economy doesn’t rise and fall as much as other cities, largely because of Miami University. Employment remains steady and layoffs have been low across the city, according to Kyger.

“People feel the effect of the national economy, but Oxford is not a boom and bust economy,” Kyger said.

Also, unemployment in Oxford is hard to detect, due to the flow of students that arrive and graduate each semester.

“A lot of our numbers are skewed because of transient numbers our population produces,” Kyger said.

Local and state authorities are using the unemployment data as an opportunity to take action. According to Les Landon, Middletown law director, state lawmakers recently enacted a $1.5 billion stimulus package for the state, hoping to spur both long- and short-term job opportunities.

“Unemployment is a big issue in Ohio,” Landon said. “I’m not sure we’re any worse off, but clearly there are a lot of people looking for jobs.”

Despite the grim numbers, the county is working to curb unemployment.

“Our own economic development department is actually working to look for new businesses and working with businesses already here,” Landon said.