News sources reported today that Ohio’s unemployment rate, which was 5.7 percent in July and August, dropped to 5.6 percent for September, “slightly better than the national rate” of 5.9 percent for September. One headline, using monthly job statistics released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, shouted, “Ohio’s unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent for October.”
Wow! Sounds like Gov. John Kasich is creating a lot of jobs!
While the numbers cited are accurate, they are also misleading. According to the Wall Street Journal, each state should really be judged by how well it is doing compared to the nation as a whole. By that fiscal conservative metric, Ohio’s governor inherited a roaring recovery that started under Democratic Governor Ted Strickland. Gov. Kasich let it stall and then decline to its current state of poor performance, where Ohio is creating only half as many jobs as the nation at-large.
Ohio jobs experts did not wait to weigh-in on the monthly numbers and connect the dots. A separate survey of jobs based on employers found a paltry production of about 1,000 jobs last month, further tarnishing Gov. Kasich’s belief that tax cuts lead to more jobs. According to Policy Matters Ohio (PMO), a progressive economic think tank based in Cleveland, Kasich has been on a crusade to lower state income tax rates, which he has done with the willing help of a likewise clueless legislature that assisted him by raising other taxes to fund tax cuts that benefited the wealthiest of Buckeyes, has performed poorly. In a state with 5.3 million jobs, the October figure is, frankly, embarrassing for John Kasich.
PMO cautioned that the two surveys used to measure jobs and employment work differently. But technical differences not withstanding, Hannah Halbert, PMO’s workforce researcher, said, “Today’s report underscores the variability inherent in the monthly numbers. The monthly numbers are always preliminary and subject to revision and benchmarking. Longer trends are more reliable indicators and Ohio’s job growth trend is one of underperformance.”
PMO also notes that Ohio’s 12-month job growth rate did not break 1 percent (0.7 percent), including the 1,000 jobs gained in October and an upward revision of the gain previously reported for September.
“While the country has recovered the jobs lost during the recession, and has grown by an additional 1 percent, Ohio still needs 110,900 jobs (2 percent) to get back to its pre-recession job count.” Halbert said. “The monthly jobs data continue to send mixed messages but the overall trend is clear, Ohio is not keeping pace with the nation and we are nowhere near robust job growth,”
Ohio’s unofficial chief economic scoreboard keeper, George Zeller, likewise based in the Cleveland area, was quick with his own headline: “Ohio Job Growth Below USA Average for 24th Consecutive Months.” Zeller told OhioNewsBureau that the new October 2014 data show the state is still recovering from both the 2000s recession and the 2007 ‘Great Recession.’” Bottom-line for Zeller is that Ohio’s growth remains too slow, and the gap between Ohio’s job growth rate and the USA’s job growth rate increased further during October 2014.
“The newly revised job estimates find that Ohio gained 75,800 jobs during 2012. During 2013, Ohio’s job growth slowed to an increase of only 51,000 jobs. During the first ten months of 2014, Ohio gained only a slowing 38,400 jobs, so the below average employment growth estimate for October 2015 in Ohio is an extremely undesirable and highly troubling development. Ohio’s employment growth is once again below the USA national average, with a newly extended streak of twenty-four months in a row with a sub-par and too slow rate of employment growth.” [Source: George Zeller]
The good news for Gov. Kasich, who made creating jobs his central point in 2010 and again this year, is that Ohio’s workforce actually grew in September, based on revised figures, which stands in stark contrasting to the prior six consecutive months of a shrinking labor force of discouraged workers who couldn’t find a job. Beyond that news, Zeller observes, “Ohio employment estimate of 1,000 jobs gained in Ohio during September was dramatically and massively slower than the 37,000 net gain in the unemployment estimate that found Ohio lost 14,000 unemployed workers and gained 23,000 employed workers in October 2014. Thus, as usual, the unemployment estimate is definitely less reliable than the employment estimate.”
“The very weak October 2014 increase of only 1,000 jobs in Ohio was a continuation of other weak recent months when Ohio lost employment or gained jobs too slowly. The new figures mean that the speed at which Ohio is gaining jobs during an economic recovery continues to be dramatically too slow,” Zeller writes.
Gov. Kasich won a second term based his upbeat chatter on jobs. Ohio media let his bad performance on creating jobs slide by like a hockey goalie looking the other way. Hob-nobbing in Florida this week with party elites and mega-donors focused on 2016, John R. Kasich says his “Ohio Model” is the envy of the nation. For any governor who believes this divinely inspired malarkey, may the Hand of the Lord be upon you if you follow the Ohio job creation model.