Chrysler Group LLC stopped taking applications last week for 1,100 new jobs at its Toledo assembly complex, less than 36 hours after it started accepting them. The automaker won't say how many applications it got, but union officials estimate the number was as high as 10,000.
Clearly, people in this region are eager for good jobs. Unemployment rates are declining in Ohio and Michigan, but those figures don't include chronically unemployed people who have given up hope of finding work, or people who are working part-time when they seek full-time jobs, or people who lost good-paying jobs and now are working for less money and worse benefits.
The local recovery from the Great Recession remains fitful: Nearly a third of Lucas County households have annual incomes of $25,000 or less, the U.S. Census Bureau says. One of every four Toledoans lives below the poverty line.
The new jobs at Chrysler's Toledo plant start at $15.78 an hour; that pay is scheduled to increase to $19.28 an hour under the automaker's current contract with the United Auto Workers. Those pay scales are much leaner than a few years ago, yet they're still among the best available for blue-collar workers.
They reflect the value of the federal bailout of Chrysler and General Motors, begun in 2008 under former President George W. Bush, largely executed by President Obama, and assailed by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Without it, the consequences for this region would have been grim.
As private-sector jobs rebound, big cuts in state and federal aid and declining local property values have reduced public-sector employment: police officers and firefighters, teachers, and workers who protect public health and the environment. These jobs are vital to the economy as well.
Unemployed people also continue to lose ground. Lucas County's unemployment rate of 8.3 in July is down from 10.2 percent in the year-ago month. Toledo's jobless rate of 9.1 percent is down from its recession peak of 13.4 percent in May, 2009. But both rates are still too high.
Other news is more encouraging. In June, employers posted the largest number of job openings in four years. Layoffs are down. In July, employers added the most jobs in a month since February.
A recovery in employment, even a soft one, is welcome. But as the rush for Chrysler's jobs suggests, real recovery is not limited to getting unemployment numbers down. Toledo also needs economic development offering wages and benefits that can support families.