The good news in job figures released Friday by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services [ODJFS] is that Ohio added 6,000 jobs last month. The bad news is that job growth in the Buckeye State is continues below the average for the United States for the 23rd consecutive month. The release today for September will be the final job numbers posted before Election Day arrives on Nov. 4. Continuing to lag the nation doesn’t play well into the job narrative constructed by Governor John Kasich, who won his seat in 2010 by promising to outperform the nation. So far, Gov. Kasich has done a poor job of delivering on his promises four years ago.
Ohio’s total job count, as of last month, stood at about 5.3 million, a number now larger than the state’s post-recession jobs peak set back in June. But even though that number is good, other numbers are not, according to an analysis performed by a Cleveland area economic think tank that determined the state’s 12-month job growth rate was a paltry 0.6 percent, compared to 1.9 percent growth over the same period for the nation.
Hannah Halbert, a workforce researcher with Policy Matters Ohio who reviewed today’s figures, said, “Ohio continues its ride on the job growth seesaw,” said “Ohio is producing modest monthly job gains followed by modest monthly losses or months of tepid growth, but we’re not seeing momentum and we are nowhere near robust job growth.” Meanwhile, Halbert stated that Ohio needs more than 114,000 jobs to get back to its pre-recession job count.
“Ohio’s recovery is slow, shallow, and fragile,” Halbert said in an email. “The state should prioritize policies that help people work and increase income. Reducing barriers to higher education, expanding job-connected training programs and raising the minimum wage would help the state regain some lost momentum.” Ohio’s labor force, she said, “remains down by 38,000 from this time last year and by 225,000 since the start of the recession.”
A review of the September numbers performed by one of Ohio’s foremost job watchers, George Zeller, shows the new September 2014 data continues to show that Ohio is still recovering from both the 2000s recession and the 2007 “Great Recession”. Ohio’s growth, Zeller points out, “remains too slow, and the gap between Ohio’s job growth rate and the USA’s job growth rate slowed further during September 2014.”
According to Zeller, there were only two revisions made today to previously released Ohio data. The previously released Ohio job figure for July 2014, which found that Ohio lost more jobs than any other state in the USA in July, was revised further downward this month by -45,100 jobs, and last month’s August 2014 Ohio data were revised upward by 5,800 jobs. The originally estimated loss of 12,400 jobs in July 2014, which was the largest loss of jobs among all 50 USA states, is now a loss of 8,600 Ohio jobs in July 2014 following new revisions this month and last month.
“The newly available September 2014 job growth data establish that Ohio has extended a new streak of sub-par job growth to 23 consecutive months, or one year and eleven months,” Zeller said, adding, “The new data for September 2014 find that Ohio’s year over year job growth between September 2013 and September 2014 remains at very slow 0.60%. Simultaneously, the job growth in the USA also continued to be relatively slow during September 2014 at 1.96%. Thus, Ohio’s rate of job growth during September 2014 was once again slower than the USA national average. This extended Ohio’s current streak of below average job growth to twenty-three consecutive months, with the gap widening between Ohio and the USA in September 2014.”
As Zeller put it, “The new figures mean that the speed at which Ohio is gaining jobs during an economic recovery continues to be dramatically too slow.” And what conclusion does he draw from the numbers? “At the current sub-par rate of job growth in Ohio during June 2014, it will take Ohio 11 years to recover the jobs that Ohio previously lost during both the 2000s recession and the 2007 Great Recession. That is extremely troubling.”