When the March jobs report was released, it was bad. Across the board, it was bad. It was so bad the Kasich Administration’s only response to it is a) to pretend it didn’t happen and b) make pathetically weak excuses to people who refuse to fall for a).
As the latest Quinnipiac poll has shown, Kasich has never been more politically popular. He’s largely managed to rehabilitate his public standing by taking credit for an improving economy (even though it was already improving before he was Governor and has done little for credit.) But even then, his poll numbers don’t portray a Governor who is invulnerable. Keep in mind that in 2009, Quinnipiac had Governor Strickland as a thirty-point favorite over Kasich with a 63%/25% approval/disapproval rating. In head-to-head matchups, Strickland lead Kasich well over 50% at roughly this point in 2009.
Kasich currently has an approval rating ten points lower than Strickland’s was, he polls <50% in head-to-head matchups against potential Democratic challengers and he has a lead of <10 points against his Democratic rivals – a third of the margin Strickland enjoyed – and Strickland lost. Strickland lost because in 2009 there was a major national downturn in the economy, and Ohio was not immune to it. The warning signs in the economy were there, but is history about to repeat itself, except this time the economy will hurt the very benefactor of the economy’s bad political time for Strickland.
If the last four months of jobs reports is any indication, it already has. In April, Ohioans learned that we lead the nation in job losses, as the State’s economy shed over 20,000 jobs. (Note: the linked article suggests that Ohio’s unemployment rate went down in March. It didn’t. It was unchanged.) In mid-May, the April report was released. It showed that Ohio regained just a third of the jobs it lost in March, and the unemployment rate dropped .1%, because just about as many Ohioans were dropping out of the labor market altogether than people who were unemployed moved to the ranks of the employed.
As the economy grew jobs in early 2012, Kasich was crowing about an “economic miracle in Ohio” that he laid claim to creating. But for all his talk about job creation, the reality remains that Ohio has a rate of job growth below the national average since Kasich took Governor. For all the talk from Kasich about steep drops in Ohio’s unemployment rates in 2011, those were largely fueled by Ohioans stop looking for work.
Still, 2011 was a golden economic age compared to 2013, where the unemployment rate is only .3% lower than a year before (that’s half the rate that the national rate has dropped), the labor participation rate is unchanged, and there are 23,000 fewer Ohioans in the labor market. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s LAUS survey of households, there was in April actually 1,000 fewer Ohioans who were employed than there were reported just twelve months earlier.
How does Kasich’s “economic miracle” in Ohio over the past twelve months stand against 2010, when Kasich toured the State declaring the economy a “failure” under then Governor Ted Strickland. In 2010, Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped 1.4%. Over the past twelve months, it’s only dropped .3%, less than one fourth the rate it was dropping when Kasich was branding Strickland’s economic policies a “failure.” And what’s really shocking is why Ohio’s unemployment rate has dropped at all. Yes, it’s true as the Governor would like point out that there are 21,000 fewer unemployed Ohioans than there were twelve months ago, but again, the same survey also says there are 1,000 fewer employed Ohioans, too. So what became of those formerly unemployed Ohioans? Well, given that Ohio’s labor market coincidentally shrank by 23,000 over the past twelve months, we know. They just dropped out of the labor market by stopping looking for work. Every. single. one. of. them.
But what about the payroll survey (CES) which is commonly used to measure job creation? Yes, it’s true that since Kasich took office in January 2011, Ohio has grown over 121,300 new jobs. However, in 2010 alone, Ohio grew 51,500 new jobs, so Ohio grew almost half as many jobs in the last year under Strickland as it has grown under Kasich’s entire term thus far. Under Kasich, there are actually fewer jobs now in Ohio than there was in June of last year. So job creation has largely flatlined since last summer in Ohio. How much so? Ohio ranks 46th in overall job growth and 47th in private sector job creation over the past twelve months.
Virtually every job Ohio lost under Ted Strickland occurred during the global economic meltdown in 2008 through late 2009. What’s Kasich’s excuse? By any fair estimation, early 2012 is when the Kasich Administration declared JobsOhio was operational. It’s also about the mid-point of Kasich’s first “Jobs” budget. I mean, first of all, if the first jobs budget was such a success, why did his own Republicans reject Jobs 2.0? Regardless, you could fairly argue that this is the time when Kasich’s policies should start to show signs of either working or not. Plus, Ohio has the winds of a pretty strong national recovery at its back that by multiple economic measures has been gaining strength. So why is Ohio failing behind? Why is it that more Ohioans are giving up looking for work instead of finding it? Where’s the actual miracle, Governor? Where are the jobs you promised? Why is Ohio’s economy stalling?
It’s not a question of whether JobsOhio is working. It’s not. I’m sorry, but as anyone who has read each one of their quarterly reports knowing that they get to pick and choose what data to make available, you cannot say that anything JobsOhio has done shows it’s working. By its own admission, they are doing fewer and fewer projects than the Ohio Department of Development did. Ohio’s job creation, which was actually doing quite well before JobsOhio became operational, has now stalled. Ohio’s job creation ranking under Kasich is in Romney territory. Public opinion always lags behind economic data. If most Ohioans learn the truth about Ohio’s economy, Kasich’s already soft support is going to pull him back underwater and drown. And Kasich’s team knows it, so expect them to turn up the economic data bamboozlement.
John Kasich didn’t get the jobs done.