The Columbus Dispatch made this bold claim in today’s paper:

imageNow, let me begin that Joe Vardon has vastly improved the objectivity of the Dispatch’s political reporting, and he doesn’t write the headlines.  His story was balanced in that it mention the vast drop in the labor market we’ve seen the past two months (more on that later.)  But my biggest complaint is the subheading that “most indicators point to steady improvement in Ohio’s economy.”

That simply isn’t true, as much as I wish it were.  The reality is the most indicators indicate Ohio’s economy has unsteady improvement, and may be at risk of backsliding.  And all the indicators show that except the unemployment rate (when viewed alone.)

The Dispatch cites an economist professor at my alma mater, Miami University that cites three things to make the case that Ohio’s “the patient has moved out of intensive care.”

  • Ohio added 72,400 jobs in 2011—the fifth most in the nation.
  • The state’s unemployment rate declined 1.4%—only twelve States had a steeper drop.
  • A resurgence in manufacturing, which Ohio is third to only Texas and Michigan in new manufacturing jobs last year.

Now, each one of those things are technically true, but highly misleading, and none of them indicate Ohio’s economy is in a state of steady improvement.

Claim 1: Ohio’s creating jobs like crazy.

First, Ohio is the seventh most populated State in the country.  Therefore, it’s not a surprise that Ohio would create more jobs than most States.  When you adjust for population, Ohio’s job creation ranks 23rd—middle of the pack. Second, the Administration has claimed recently (as in just a few weeks ago) that it ranked 9th in the nation, not fifth.  So when you put Ohio’s new job figures in context by measuring it with other States after you adjust for differences in population, Ohio is barely doing better than half the States.

Second, nearly half of the jobs gained last year were gained in January alone.  Virtually all of the jobs Ohio created last year were created in the first six months.  In fact, Ohio gained jobs every month for the first six months.  In the last six months of the year (just when Kasich’s budget took effect), Ohio saw a net loss of jobs.  In fact, three of those last six months saw net job losses.  So, no, the CES Survey (survey of employers, which determines job creation claims) does not show Ohio is in a constant state of improvement.

Job creation essentially stalled in August through the rest of the year.  That’s the facts.

Claim 2: Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped more than other States.

Again, the article claims Ohio’s in a constant state of improvement, not that we’re doing better than other States.

Given that Ohio was on a fourteen month streak of dropping unemployment that began in Feb. 2010 and ended in 2011 means that, no, we’re not in a constant State of improvement.  We had three months of increasing unemployment rates, even as Ohioans were dropping out of the market.

The unemployment rate dropped 1.1% over 2010.  It dropped 1.4% in 2011.   But there’s a huge caveat to that that the Dispatch could not ignore:

But what might seem like one of Ohio’s best economic news stories in 2011 — the falling unemployment rate — also could indicate the enormity of challenges that still exist. The state’s labor force shrunk by 84,704 people last year (only Michigan lost more), meaning in part that more people who were out of work gave up looking for a   job.

When Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.5 percent in November to 8.1 in December, the state’s labor force shrank by 21,272 people.

“It was the first time in my life I said the large decline in the unemployment rate was bad news,” said George Zeller, a longtime Ohio economic-research analyst.

So, it’s clear that the unemployment rate is not an indicator showing that Ohio’s economy is constantly improving either.

The article points out that Ohio is ranked 11th in the nation in foreclosures and moving up.

The reality is that every economic indicator refutes what the Dispatch reported as fact today.  It omitted the U.S. Department of Labor’s survey of household (the other jobs survey it conducts besides the CES), which actually indicates that fewer Ohioans are considered employed now than in 2010.  The headline is factually false.  This isn’t debatable.  Ohio simply is not in a constant state of improvement, and there’s no economic indicator that shows it to be.

To add insult to injury, what really burns me about this article was this passage:

While Kasich was battering Strickland on the campaign trail for jobs lost, during 2010 Ohio was quietly adding 31,000 jobs (seventh-most in the U.S.) and slightly increased its labor force. The state’s gross domestic product also expanded by 2.1 percent in 2010 after shrinking by 1.3 percent in 2009, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, and unemployment fell each month in the final 10 months of 2010

The only reason Ohio was “quietly” showing these improvements is because media outlets, like the Columbus Dispatch refused to report them during the 2010 campaign.  It was all there, the same publically available data.  But for “some reason,” the Dispatch never really challenged Kasich’s narrative in 2010 that Ohio’s economy was not already in a recovery.

Think about it.  We’ve been making this case for a year, and without really acknowledging it, the Dispatch has subtlety gone from reporting how bad the economy was to trying to compare the recovery in 2010 (that they refused to acknowledge in the campaign) to the recovery in 2011.  And even then, they have to use false claims of constant improvement that masks that nearly half of all jobs created in 2011 were being created literally as Governor Strickland was turning over the reins to Kasich.

But remember how back in December when the November jobs report came out the Kasich folks were crowing about the drop in the unemployment rate and 6,000 new jobs?  Well, when the December jobs report was released a weeks ago, the number of jobs created in November was revised down to 2,400 jobs created instead.  That also “quietly” occurred because no media outlet reported it, too.