New figures offer dim view of Ohio job picture

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

New figures offer dim view of Ohio job picture

Mark Williams

The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

A big drop in government jobs last month contributed to a rise in Ohio's unemployment rate, which hit its highest level since early 2012.

And the shift in Ohio from a manufacturing economy to one that's more service-oriented isn't doing the state any good, as its pace of job growth lags the nation's.

A state report released yesterday showed Ohio's unemployment rate rose to 7.5 percent in October from 7.4 percent in September. The rate stood at 7.3 percent in August.

Both the October and September rates were released yesterday, as the report was delayed because of the partial government shutdown in October.

The 7.5 percent rate, the highest since February 2012, stands in contrast to 6.7 percent last December, the lowest rate since the recession. The rate had peaked at 10.6 percent in early 2010.

Job gains over the past year have slowed well below the U.S. average. Ohio has added just 27,200 jobs over the past year, a gain of about 0.5 percent. The national average was 1.7 percent.

The state has regained about 200,000 of the 420,000 jobs that were lost in 2008 and 2009 during the recession.

"Nobody in the halls of government should be patting themselves on the back for the reduction in the unemployment rate the past four years," said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics near Cleveland. "We are still far underperforming the rest of the country as far as job formation."

The state continues to add jobs, just not very fast.

"I'm sort of like a broken record," said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which issued yesterday's report. "It's just a fairly slow recovery, and the job growth is just coming very slowly."

While economists said the partial government shutdown didn't appear to affect the report, Johnson noted continued economic uncertainty created by the budget fights in Washington, and a slow global economy is hurting the state's employers, especially exporters.

Michael Brown, a Wells Fargo & Co. economist, agreed that international economic issues have hurt Ohio manufacturers.

"The global economy continues to bump along, and that doesn't bode well for Ohio," he said.

Part of the frustration with Ohio's slow recovery is that it is diversifying from manufacturing, which has become more automated, and the state is making the turn to a more service-oriented economy, he said.

As Ohio's economy bumps along when it comes to jobs, the U.S. economy is showing improvement.

The Labor Department reported yesterday that U.S. job openings and overall hiring both reached five-year highs in September.

Job postings rose 69,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.9 million, the Labor Department said. That's the most since March 2008, just a few months after the recession began. It's also close to the roughly 4 million job openings each month that are consistent with healthier job markets.

Total hiring increased 26,000, to 4.6 million, the highest level since August 2008. The gain suggests employers are not only posting more jobs but also are taking greater steps to fill them.

September's total hiring is still below the roughly 5 million people who are typically hired in better job markets.

The number of unemployed workers in Ohio, meanwhile, rose by 2,000 to 427,000 during the month and now is up 31,000 over the past year.

The unemployment report issued by the state is made up of two surveys, one of workers and a separate one of employers, and they don't always track in the same direction.

The employer portion of the survey showed a loss of 6,300 government jobs last month with the bulk of them, 4,300, at the local government level. There was a loss of 600 federal jobs.

About 54,000 federal, state and local government jobs have been lost since January 2009.

The state also reported losses in two other sectors that have been strong in the state: educational and health services, and professional and business services.

There were some bright spots in the state report, including one suggesting improvement in the state's real-estate sector.

The report showed a gain of 1,300 construction jobs last month and a pickup of 1,000 jobs in the financial-activities sector with even bigger gains tied to residential and commercial real estate.

There also was a gain of

3,500 jobs in the trade, transportation and utilities sector last month and a pickup of 3,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this story.

mawilliams@dispatch.com

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