Hard-Hit Dayton Searches for Economic Turnaround

The government announced Friday that the jobless rate increased to 9.9 percent in April as more job seekers entered the market. At the same time, the economy added 290,000 new jobs. That mixed picture is reflected in Dayton, Ohio, a city hard-hit in recent years and, like many cities, in search of an economic turnaround.

Friday's unemployment numbers show there is some job growth around the country. Even places like Dayton, which has lost three major employers in the last two years, are starting to show signs of re-birth in jobs, CBS News Correspondent Jeff Glor reports.

For the first time in a long time, people in Dayton have something to cheer about. It's not just because the Dayton Dragons - the minor league team that moved here 10 years ago - has sold out its last 715 games, the second longest streak in professional sports.

"We actually had our highest renewal rate for season tickets in the history of the team in the worst economy that we have ever operated in," said Dragons President Robert Murphy. "We also hired more people."

Here, where the recession took a brutal toll, there are signs of change.

Getting hired is exactly what 56-year-old Keith Murgatroyd is hoping for. After 26 years, he lost his administrative job at business machine maker NCR after the company moved its headquarters to Atlanta last June, taking 1,200 jobs with it.

"It hurt, but it happens," Murgatroyd said.

The Dayton area lost 10,000 jobs in the past two years. Half of them left when General Motors shut down a Chevrolet sport utility vehicle assembly plant in 2008. In the mid-'90s, Dayton's unemployment rate was 2.3 percent. Now it's more than 12.5 percent.

"Well it's certainly not the best of times," said Edward Jauch, owner of Dayton Stencil, an engraving shop that used to be one of GM's major suppliers.

GM's departure hurt family-owned businesses like 100-year-old Dayton Stencil. Now, Jauch is leaving some jobs unfilled and has reduced the hours of his remaining 20 employees.

"It's been very slow," said Jauch. "We're off somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent."

He's trying to reinvigorate the company by introducing new products like golf bag tags.

"We've seen a slight uptick in our business," Jauch said.

"We're in the middle of a transformation," said Phil Parker of the Dayton-area Chamber of Commerce.

Transformation is the new buzz word in Dayton. Parker is hoping the city's transformation will begin at the area job center, where 42,000 unemployed workers are being retrained.

"Are they all jobs that require a college degree?" asked Parker. "Not necessarily but many of them are going to take more than just a high-school education."

The success of the Dragons baseball team is helping to transform the area around its stadium. Businesses are sprouting up, residential construction in the area has doubled, and the city has invested millions in a downtown performing arts center.

Murgatroyd is seeing signs that unemployment is easing. He's even starting to get called in for interviews.

"Oh, boy; I just jump up and down with joy when I get something like that," Murgatroyd said.

Like the Dragons' attendance record, that's a streak he'd like to see continue.

Also, the University of Dayton just bought the old NCR building for a research center, creating hundreds of jobs.

  • Jeff Glor

    Jeff Glor was named anchor of the Sunday edition of the "CBS Evening News" in January 2012 and Special Correspondent for "CBS This Morning" in November 2011.