Just about every month last year, I’d do a post about Ohio’s unemployment figures and show how the State was already in an economic recovery that the media refused to acknowledge during the political campaign. Almost inevitably, Jon Keeling at Third Base Politics would essentially try to write a rebuttal post denying that Ohio was in any sort of economic recovery.
First, let’s start with a graph Keeling like to use over and over again. It comes from Governor Strickland’s Council of Economic Advisors, an entity comprised of the leading economic forecasters in Ohio’s private market. The economic forecasters from some of the top financial companies in Ohio. And to the right, you’ll see the graph of what they projected back in June of 2010:
It predicted employment in Ohio will fall 1.5 percent this year, but rebound with increases of 0.9 in 2011 and 1.4 percent in 2012. It also said the state’s unemployment rate will reach 10.7 percent this year, from 10.4 percent in 2009, but will drop to 10.2 percent next year and 9.7 percent in 2012.
What happened instead? Ohio’s unemployment continued to drop. For seven straight months, Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped from a high point of 11% in March to a preliminary estimate of 9.6% in December. In 2010, Ohio’s unemployment dropped 1.2% from 2009 in the single largest drop over a year in unemployment in Ohio in 23 years.
And that drop in 1987 was after unemployment peaked in 1985. We didn’t hit our peak in unemployment after the Great Recession, again, until March. So last year was actually the most remarkable turnaround in unemployment within a year in Ohio since 1983! We have an unemployment rate below what Governor Strickland’s Council of Economic Advisors didn’t predict we’d reach until 2012.
Instead of losing jobs for the year as predicted in June, we created over 72,000 jobs in Ohio. Since 1980, the largest single-year of job losses in Ohio was 2009. The second largest was in 2008. That’s how bad the recession was on Ohio. And yet, in the one year after the greatest recession Ohio has seen since the Great Depression ended, Ohio created in one year more than half as many jobs as Bob Taft created during his entire eight-year tenure as Governor.
Keeling’s common reply to Ohio’s dropping unemployment was that it was caused by people dropping out of the labor market, not an improving economy. Unfortunately for him, this also was untrue. Over the course of the year, Ohio’s labor market wound up staying essentially flat from a year ago, with a slight increase over 2009.
So, Ohio’s unemployment was not dropping over seven months because people were dropping out of the labor market because they couldn’t find work. It was dropping because Ohio was creating over 73,000 jobs.
I tried raising awareness of the media’s odd unwillingness to acknowledge the job growth in Ohio back in August during my appearance on ONN’s “Capitol Square,” and it was dismissed as an opportunity for the “other side” to make a political point instead of being recognized as the objectively true statement it was:
Had the economic recovery of 2010 began just a month or two months earlier, Ted Strickland in all likelihood would have been re-elected as would other Democrats. Or if the media had truthfully reported about the full extent of the economic recovery in Ohio during the campaign.
The economic recovery was denied by Republicans and largely ignored or discounted by the Ohio media, but it cannot be ignored any longer. Ohio had a remarkable economic recovery last year, and left to its own devices, this year should be an even stronger year in recovery. The only question is whether John Kasich will do anything that a) warrants him deserving any credit, b) anything that could harm the recovery.