On Friday, Ohio made national economic news as the leading state in job creation in April for the nation.? 37,000 new jobs were created last month alone.

Our state’s unemployment rate only dipped .1% of a percent, though, and returned to the same rate as in February.? So, that’s not great news, huh?

Actually, it’s great news… so long as you aren’t John Kasich if you look at the trends.

Month Change in Nonfarm wage and salary employment from prior month Ohio Unemploy. Rate
January ’10 – 12,800 10.8%
February ’10 + 3,500 10.9%
March ’10 +4,900 11.0%
April ’10 +37,300 10.9%

[Source: The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services]

But why did the unemployment rates go up in February and March if the number of non-farm jobs grew?? Well, ODJFS Director Douglas Lumpkin explained in March:

Ohio’s unemployment rate rose slightly as more Ohioans entered the job market but were unable to find work.,” ODJFS Director Douglas Lumpkin said.

So, for the first month of the year, Ohio was still losing jobs but then saw modest job growth until last month’s robust job growth.? At the same time of that turnaround, we saw a growing number of nonemployed Ohioans who had at one time given up the search for employment reenter the labor pool.

What did we see in the polling in the Governor’s race over that period of time (reverse big-tailed, puckered lipped Jesus Fish!)?

Notice that Kasich peaked right before Ohio started to create, instead of losing, jobs and non-employed Ohioans started to look for work again.

Now, there could be a certain post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy here as there are several other variables that could account for the change in the race.? There was more attention paid to Kasich’s reckless tax plan, for example.? Ohioans became more engaged in the race, particularly Democratic voters who were awoken from their ideological slumber to find themselves with a Senate primary to decide.? Polling has shown that Strickland’s improvement largely came from Democrats solidifying behind him.? But the polling has also shown that Independents went from a clear advantage for Kasich to a split.? To date, nobody has offered an explanation for that change with Independents.

You could make an argument that the national political atmosphere had also improved, but I’d respond that you’d find the same economically/polling phenomenon correlation in a national scale. So, that doesn’t explain it.

Now is there a causative link between the two?? Well, it’d take more public opinion and economic study that I can do just with my laptop and John Kasich’s wondrous invention called Google to pull off.? The lazy academic in me would say to watch the polling that comes out early next month.? But even if it shows a massive lead for Strickland, the debate becomes is it from the changes in the labor market or the dispute over Kasich and Wall Street that was the cause?

But if there is any causative link between the changes in the labor market and Strickland’s polling fortunes, then the April jobs report would seem to tell us we should see a remarkable shift in the public polling in Strickland’s favor.

After all, if the number of people re-entering the workplace in February that barely beat out the 4,000 some jobs created was enough to erase Kasich’s lead, what does that say about April when the number of people re-enter the labor market and the number of jobs being created were ten times as much as in February?

Ted Strickland doesn’t need natural rate of unemployment by November to win.? It’d be great, but that’s not likely to happen.? All Governor Strickland needs to do is convince Ohioans that he has steered Ohio through incredibly rough waters while chartering a course for better days ahead.?

It would appear from looking at the polling trends and state labor reports that he’s been marginally successful at doing that.? The only question is will they be able to capture what had to be the tens of thousands of Ohioans who had lost hope but found it again last month as well as they did in February?

If I were Team Kasich, I’d be nervous, especially now that they have to revise their “Blame Strickland Clock” substantially downward for the third straight month in a row.

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