Belmont County unemployment rate plunges

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Mike Schlanz, WIA/Belmont County Connections One Stop manager, delivered an employment report to Belmont County Commissioners Wednesday. He noted increased activity at the Connections office.

“Things are kind of hopping right now,” he said.

The unemployment rate for the county has decreased since 2009. It stood at 7.9 percent as of December, and 6.9 percent as of November, not seasonally adjusted. The annual average for 2011 was 8.6 percent, with 9.8 percent at 2010 and 8.9 percent at 2009.

“That’s a good sign for Belmont County,” he said.

Meanwhile, county resident unemployment compensation claims have also decreased from 4,687 initial claims and 44,546 continued claims in 2009 to 4,347 and 35,642 in 2010, 3,799 and 25,834 in 2011 and 3,587 and 25,043 in 2012.

Traffic at the One Stop center has increased from 6,514 in 2010, 7,193 in 2011, and 7,707 in 2012. Job orders from employers have also increased, from 272 to 345.

Customer resumes completed have increased from 222 to 253.

“That’s one of the biggest services we provide,” he said.

Schlanz noted that Rural King made use of the Connections office to take applications and conduct interviews while the store was being renovated. The Connections office has placed people with a wide variety of area businesses from retail to construction to service and health care work.

Oil and gas activity is also picking up, with continual contact with the Connections office. The office has been used for interviews and training. The office has referred many applicants to WACO in Bellaire. Applications are available at Connections. The office provides employment information on a wealth of companies. Applicants must apply online.

He reported on Workforce Investment Act performance measures for 2011 through June 30, 2012. The county is part of Workforce Investment Area 16, which covers Belmont, Carroll, Harrison and Jefferson counties. The program calls for people to enroll for training programs. Schlanz said Belmont County met the standard rates for adults entering and retaining employment and exceeded rates for adult average earnings for six months, and dislocated workers entering employment, retention rates and average earnings.

The county is also benefiting from three national emergency grants including a Severstal Grant to enroll laid-off workers into training programs. The grant ends June 30. A total of 23 participants are enrolled.

A disaster flood grant for creek and stream clean-up from the 2011 spring floods has created more than 60 temporary jobs for residents. The grant ends Sept. 30, 2013.

Also, a wind storm grant to clean up wind storm damage from 2012 has created six temporary jobs. The grant ends Sept. 30, 2013., the state site for people looking for employment, is also in use. The Connections office may be renamed by state mandate to fall under the OhioMeansJobs brand.

There are high hopes for the upcoming seventh annual job fair April 3 at the Ohio Valley Mall. Last year’s event was well-attended with more than 80 vendors and hundreds of job seekers.

A pre-job fair survey confirmed with 32 of 35 responders intending to participate and three are considering. The time frame has yet to be determined.

The Connections office is located at 302 Walnut St., Martins Ferry. The phone number is (740) 633-5627. The web site is

DeFrank can be reached at