As the go-go CEO-style Governor Kasich sells his nearly four years in office as reason to reelect him, evidence exist to question whether he’s the turnaround leader he and his team claim he is. Proof that his job creation machine isn’t creating jobs at anything close to the pace Ted Strickland created jobs in his final year in office, after he took the worst the Great Recession could dish out and captained the state to recovery, is available to any interested voter who takes the time to plow through the Monthly Financial Report [MRP] state’s budget director Tim Keen delivers each month to the governor.
The MFR Tim Keen sent out Wednesday is the latest case in point that shows just how weak job creation is under the Kasich Administration. It’s certainly nothing to crow about, but crow about it is what the governor does, and what media allows him to do.
In fact, Ohio’s performance relative to national performance numbers is disappointing, as has been the case for 21 straight months. Asked to help read the tea leaves in Keen’s MFR, John Spinelli of the OhioNewsBureau asked George Zeller, renowned for his economic research analytics, to weigh-in on the September MFR.
“July was the 21st consecutive month when Ohio’s job growth was below the USA national average,” Zeller, who resides in Cleveland, told ONB. “Ohio’s year over year job growth rate for July was 1.00%. The USA job growth for July was 1.92%. This was not just a one month fluke for July. It is a continual problem that has been ongoing for 21 straight months. The gap between Ohio’s growth rate and the USA growth rate increased once again in July.”
Mr. Keen, who worked for Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor when she held the office of state auditor before signing on as Kasich’s running mate in 2010, told the governor that Ohio’s unemployment rate increased to 5.7 percent in July, the first rise since a 9-month string of declines that reduced the level by 2 percentage points to the lowest level since early 2007. At the end of 2013, the state unemployment rate was 7.1 percent. The reduction in the rate since August of last year resulted both from a decline in the number of unemployed people (-110,117) and a rise in the number of employed people (+56,694). That difference between those two amounts, Keen said, represents a change in the labor force of 53,423 workers.
“The 53,000 decline in the labor force in July for Ohio was not the first month with such a decline,” Zeller said. “This has been going on all year on a monthly basis, and it is a serious problem.”
Citing other economic crunching by the progressive economic think tank Policy Matters Ohio, Zeller, whose expertise is sought by various entities including the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, said the cause of the continual substantial decline in the labor force is not mainly increased retirements. “The decline in the labor force is impacting young workers under age 30 as well. So, the declining labor force makes the unemployment estimates even less meaningful and more unreliable than they always are.” Zeller worries over the large and continual declines in the labor force. “Too many workers can’t find a job, and thus they are dropping out of the labor force in large numbers. This is a serious problem.”
Stating his thesis simply, Zeller says, “The recovery remains too slow.” He added that the “raw size of the July job loss in Ohio was surprising, even to me.” Ohio lost 12,400 jobs in July, a feat the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported was the largest loss of jobs in July among all 50 USA states. “Yes, Ohio lost more jobs than Alabama, Mississippi, California, and all of the other USA states in July 2014. It is of course stunning and alarming that Ohio was #1 in the nation in jobs lost in July 2014,” Zeller lamented.
The Cleveland analyst notes that manufacturing has been driving the slow recovery in Ohio, but Keen failed to point out that “Ohio lost Manufacturing jobs during July, a key contributor to the 12,400 jobs lost in Ohio during July.” Cause for worry to Zeller is the return of Ohio to an elevated “job destruction” level, going on now for four consecutive weeks. Following a brief break in that trend, Zeller says “the data deteriorated in Ohio, and Ohio then returned to an elevated ‘job destruction’ level of new unemployment claims for ten weeks in a row.”
Team Kasich might counter and point to a stretch of five consecutive weeks of “job growth” levels of new unemployment claims that were not elevated. Zeller would counter with, it’s now known that this five week positive streak was a “false positive,” caused by the annual seasonal distortion caused by erratic timing in recent years of the annual retooling process in the automobile industry. Newly available September 2014 data are no longer subject to the annual August retooling distortion, he told ONB via email today. Meanwhile, two consecutive weeks with an elevated “job destruction” level of new unemployment claims is underway.
Ohio’s 6,349 new unemployment claims in newly released data for the first week of September 2014 are now 5.1 percent higher than the 6,040 new unemployment claims that Ohio had during the first week of September 1999, the last year when Ohio had unambiguous job growth for the entire year, Zeller notes. “Thus, Ohio this week is currently in the ‘job destruction’ range of new claims that is currently elevated above normal levels.”
Bottom line? John Kasich just hasn’t gotten the jobs done. That narrative could be a stumbling block for him when he runs for president, which all Ohio knows is absolutely on his agenda, even though he refuses to speak about, believing he can avoid pesky questions by playing dumb. His agenda of aggrandizement for him his insider click of crony cohorts is standing in plain site.
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