Athens County Unemployment Rate Drops

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Athens County unemployment rate dropped from 10.8 percent to 9.6 percent last month, and the drop may be thanks, in part, to students returning to school.

Nick Claussen, community relations coordinator for Athens County Job and Family Services, says that students being on campus opens up jobs and provides more business for the local county and city. "It also provides more customers for the businesses in the city and in the county.  I mean, those businesses benefit form having the students here, certainly, and that does create jobs when the university is in session," says Claussen.
Athens County actually has a high employment rate, but Claussen points out, many of these jobs are low-paying and do not provide health benefits."This kind of shows how we have a lot of a working poor here in Athens County," he says.  "We have a lot of people who are working and doing their best trying to make ends meet, but they sometimes don't have health care.  They sometimes don't have enough money to get by each month and it's definitely a struggle for them."
Having health care is a priority for many families, but Claussen says many Athens County residents cannot afford it. This can often lead to family emergencies, he explains."We see people all the time who've run into health problems and it's caused them to lose their jobs, caused them to get behind on bills, sometimes get their house foreclosed on, and it's puts them in a terrible situation just because they have medical problems."
Claussen said he cannot predict what will happen to the unemployment rate, but says they would like to see the the government increase assistance for people who are in need, and to help them provide more for their own basic needs.