6 Oct 2011

Local Economy Shows Improvement

Author: Anna Christoff | Filed under: Student Contributor

By: Anna Christoff

The bad news: Wood County’s unemployment rate is higher than normal.

The good news: Wood County is slightly better off than the rest of Ohio and the country.

Experts say foreign exports and transportation are what boost the local economy.

The national and state of Ohio unemployment ratesedged up to 9.1 percent in the month of August.  According to the Wood CountyDepartment of Job and Family Services, however, Wood County had a rate of 8.8 percent unemployment as of August.

While the local economy is not significantly better than the state and national economy, Wood County is still better off than the majority of the state.

Northwest Ohio has some advantages, said Bowling Green State University economics professor Timothy Fuerst.

“Northwest Ohio manufacturing is benefiting from rapidly expanding exports,” he said.  “The one industry that shows little likelihood of near-term improvement is residential construction.”

The Port of Toledo makes sales to foreign countries possible.  The port has brought in over five hundred million dollars in foreign exports during the year of 2010, according to Fuerst.

Wood County Job and Family Services one stop manager for Wood County JOBsolutions, Mary DeWitt agreed that Wood County has benefits that many Ohio counties don’t have.

She said that the new Northwest Ohio Terminal, CSX Transportation, in North Baltimore, is a large contributor to the Wood County economy, and is expected to continue growing.

Railroad tracks that are similar to those that CSX trains use. Photo by Anna Christoff

“CSX takes at least 1,000 trucks to Toledo every day,” she said.

The Terminal is a double-stack freight rail passageway between East Coast sea ports and the Midwest. There are more than 200 full-time employees at CSX and there is potential for more than 2,000 spin-off jobs during the next 10 years, according to the Toledo Blade.

Regardless of Wood County having some local benefits and a lower unemployment rate than the state of Ohio, the 8.8 percent unemployment rate is still affecting many people.

Bowling Green State University junior Andrea Borkowski said that her father is currently unemployed.

“My dad became unemployed less than a year ago.  His company let him go after working for 21 years there.  We think that they didn’t want to fund his retirement… He hasn’t been able to find another job, which has been a struggle for my family, considering my mom has always been a stay-at-home mother.”

Her father, Greg Borkowski, 61, said that he was one of the lucky ones at his company who received a year severance.

“At this point in my life I don’t see myself being able to find another job,” he said.

Borkowski’s father is not alone.  The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said there are 5,700 unemployed Wood County residents, and the Department of Labor said that there were approximately 14 million Americans unemployed as of August.

With the national, state and local unemployment rate being so high, many wonder when the economy will return to normal.  The economy is considered to be stable when there is an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent, according to Job and Family Services.

DeWitt said that there needs to be increased spending and hiring within companies before the unemployment rate decreases.

“Companies are leery of hiring because of taxes and healthcare,” she said.

“We do not know for sure why employment is recovering so slowly. Only time and more data will reveal why employment growth in the last nine months has been so weak,” Fuerst said.

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