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Published: Saturday, 7/18/2009

Ohio jobless rate up to 11.1%

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Tim O'Brien doesn't need the U.S. Department of Labor to tell him the jobless rate has risen again. The stack of resumes he's collected for engineering job openings that don't exist attests to the current labor market.

"I get 10 or 12 resumes a week out of the blue just from people hoping that there might be some opening," said Mr. O'Brien, owner of Benchmark Engineering Group Inc. in Toledo. "Typically, if I need a mechanical engineer or a civil engineer, I'll have 20 or 30 resumes on hand before we even post an advertisement."

Ohio's unemployment rate rose in June to 11.1 percent, the seventh straight month of increases, and is now higher than it's been since August, 1983. The rate rose 0.3 percentage points from May, and is 4.7 percentage points higher than in June, 2008.

Douglas Lumpkin, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said Ohio's employment market weakened further in June because of continued job losses in manufacturing, particularly the auto industry, as well as in the service sector.

The seasonally adjusted jobless estimates put the number of unemployed in Ohio at 662,000 in June, up from 647,000 the month before. The June figure was 279,000 higher than a year ago. Michigan's unemployment rate is 15.2 percent, and nationwide, the jobless rate stood at 9.5 percent, its highest level in 26 years.

With tens of thousands of people in the region out of work, those few companies that have been in a position to hire recently have been inundated with applications and resumes for their positions.

Job and Family Services officials in Wood and Fulton counties recently collected thousands of resumes and applications for three start-up companies in the region, Willard & Kelsey Solar Group LLC, Xunlight Corp., and HP2G LLC. Though none is close to beginning full-scale production on their products, each has received hundreds of applications for each job they had to fill.

"I got 41 resumes just yesterday," said Linda Urbanski, human resources manager at Xunlight. "We post a new job, and we can get a hundred applications in a day - and they're from all over. A lot of that is the [solar] industry. We're not selling cars here."

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.


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