Today, the Ohio Department of Jobs & Family Services released the November jobs report, showing Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped .5% down to 8.5%, dropping with the national rate which had also dropped from 9% to 8.6%.  This brings Ohio’s rate to essentially where it was in May and April of this year.  Seriously.

Still, a .5% drop is a sign that things are improving in Ohio right?  Yes, so long as that’s the only thing in the jobs report you actually bother to look at.  If you actually look at the reason why Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped, you’d realize it’s because Ohioans were dropping out of the labor market at nearly four times the rate  the economy was creating jobs.  A shrinking labor population coupled with a modest gain of jobs is going to make your unemployment rate change significantly, but it’s not much to actually celebrate.

According to the ODJFS’ release, Ohio’s employers reported creating 6,000 new jobs in November as households reported 22, 000 Ohioans gave up looking for work entirely.  That means that for every job that was created last month, there was nearly four Ohioans who gave up looking for that new job.

This is the only the second month in a row that Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped as Kasich enacted his “Jobs Budget” into law (and the other month was last month’s .1% drop where Ohio lost jobs.)  Before then, Ohio had a fourteen-month streak of dropping unemployment under Governor Strickland that began in February 2010, and those drops happened as people were reentering the labor market.

The good news is that Ohio actually created jobs again after shedding jobs the past two months.  However, in 2010, Ohio saw monthly jobs gains in the neighborhood of 15k repeatedly, and yet, the media never challenged Kasich’s narrative that Ohio’s economy was not already in a recovery.  In fact, if you went on television last year and made the case the Ohio was creating jobs under Strickland under a strong recovery, this is the treatment you got: (@2:22 mark)

In October, only 8,085 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market.  That increased by nearly a factor of THREE in November.

But, hey remember how all the Kasich fans predicted that defeat of Issue 2 would lead to an increase in government layoffs?

The most significant gains were in trade, transportation and utilities (+3,500), government (+1,500), financial activities (+1,100), and educational and health services (+500). The only service sector losses were in leisure and hospitality (-1,400) and information (-300). Goods-producing industries, at 820,700, saw a net increase of only 400 from October. Employment in manufacturing (+4,400) was offset by losses in construction (-4,000) .

We actually saw a gain in government jobs for the first time in long while.

So, while I’m happy that Ohio’s rate is down, and Ohio has started to grow jobs again after three months of rising unemployment, followed by two months of job losses, I’m concerned that the job growth was modest and the drop in unemployment was instead largely fueled by 22,000 Ohioans who gave up looking for a job before Christmas.

Sadly, this is the best jobs report Kasich has had since his “Jobs Budget.”  If you squint your eye and pay only attention to the unemployment rate while wearing your Johnny Kasich, Jr. Exploiters Club Fan Club hat, you might be able to see that this is a totally wicked jobs report.  But for the rest of us who actually read our news stories past the headline, it’s only a slight improvement compared to the bad news in the past five months.

Here’s the reality: Ohio’s unemployment rate was dropping faster and more consistently under Governor Strickland after the recession than has under Kasich.  In fact, even after you factor in this report, most of the drop in Ohio’s unemployment rate since the recession occurred before Kasich took office.

For a significant period of time, Ohio’s rate dropped under Strickland as people re-entered the workforce, but at a rate slower than the rate new jobs were being created.  Since then, we’ve seen three months of straight unemployment increases, two months of jobs losses, and the number of people in the labor market has fallen off a cliff:


That’s the truth about the  “Kasich recovery.”