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Unemployment rates lower : Washington County remains below state average despite lockout

By Kevin Pierson, Special to The Times

Local unemployment rates for November:

• Washington County — 5 percent.

• Monroe County — 9.4 percent.

• Meigs County — 7.9 percent.

• Morgan County — 8 percent.

Source: Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Though it’s surrounded by counties with high unemployment rates Washington County remained beneath the state average during the month of November.

Washington County’s unemployment rate of 5 percent was just below the unadjusted state rate of 5.1 percent and well below the seasonally adjusted rate of 5.4 percent according to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

“We’ve been doing better than the state average all year,” said Washington County Commissioner Sam Cook.

November’s unemployment rate for the county was up slightly from October’s 4.8 percent but was identical to November 2005.

One reason Cook said he feels the county has seen an increase in the unemployment rate is the ongoing work stoppage at Eramet.

The lockout at Eramet has put approximately 300 local workers out of work and if the situation is not resolved the unemployment numbers could increase even further, Cook said.

“If they don’t get this settled and Eramet would pull out there’s 550 jobs down there that would go down the tube,” Cook said.

Charles Simmons, 52, of Marietta, is one of the employees currently locked out at Eramet and said he feels the lockout is definitely the cause of the unemployment increase.

Simmons said he has been looking for other work but has not been successful yet.

“Three hundred guys being out of work here contributes a lot to that increase,” Simmons said.

Washington County has seen several major businesses such as Kardex, Walker and Airolite depart the area in recent years but Cook said those job losses have been made up with growth and expansion in local businesses.

“We’ve had a lot of new activity in employers that have hired 10 new people or 20 new people or 40 people but we haven’t had any big new employer come on the scene,” Cook said.

As the new year kicks off Jan. 1 Cook is hopeful the county will continue to remain below the state average in unemployment and well below the surrounding counties.

Cook attributes the county’s economic success to the diverse economic base with chemical plants, feral alloy plants and even Marietta Memorial Hospital.

“We hope that we’re able to maintain where we are, around 5 percent (unemployment), or do better next year,” Cook said.





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