The news Friday morning for Gov. John Kasich could have been better, much, much better. But it wasn’t. First, some of his ideas on shared services among communities and schools got axed by Ohio Senate Republicans whose strategy to fill a budget hole gaping at not quite $1 billion – a fiscal abyss created in large part due to years of the governor’s over-the-top income tax cuts – caught Kasich’s newest ideas on the horns of a bull called Austerity.
Friday bore more bad news for Ohio’s lame-duck governor when the Department of Jobs and Family Services released data on employment and unemployment in Ohio for May 2017 showing a gain after adjustments of 6,300 jobs in May 2017. The national job growth rate increased from 1.42 percent in April to 1.54 percent in May. That places Ohio’s May job growth rate of 0.71 percent below the national job growth.
At the same time, the national job growth rate increased from 1.42 percent in April to 1.54 percent in May (which is an increase of 8.45 percent). That places Ohio’s May job growth rate of 7.1 percent below the national job growth average.
Kasich 2016: Minus 138,100 Jobs
And the “hat trick” of the day rained bigly on the governor. New employment data that applied once-per-year benchmark revisions based on total job count show an unusually large downward revision of 138,100 jobs for last year, when Kasich was on the White House campaign trail.
“The downward revisions to previous ‘good’ months in June and July 2016 were unusually large and in excess of 30,000,” Cleveland-based economic research analyst George Zeller said, spotting a stunning highlight of the report. The new figures, considered by Zeller to be “far more accurate than similar figures in reports released during all prior 2016 months,” show a large of loss of minus 138,100 jobs for 2016. The revision eliminated what had originally been reported as positive job figures in Ohio during the early summer months of 2016, Zeller observed.
He added, “The new May 2017 data find that Ohio is still recovering from both the 2000s recession and the 2007 Great Recession. But, Ohio’s growth remains too slow and is well below the USA national average.”
After doing some math, Zeller determined that May 2017 is the 54th consecutive month when the Ohio job growth rate is below the U.S. national job growth rate.
Maybe it will come as a great shock to Kasich, who prides himself on cutting government, that the growth in upward revisions to April and the main cause of Ohio’s employment growth in May was an increase of 6,700 jobs in government.
“That growth came at all three levels of Government, with increases of 5,000 in State Government, 1,300 in Local Government, and 400 in Federal Government,” Zeller told Plunderbund Friday.
Meanwhile, something that is not a good sign for Kasich is the loss of 3,600 jobs in manufacturing, as both durable goods manufacturing and mondurable goods manufacturing suffered losses. Retail jobs declined by 2,400 jobs while wholesale trade jobs dipped by 2,000 jobs. Zeller noted that other industries mainly lost small numbers of jobs, with the best exception with job increases coming from a 3,800 job increase in healthcare and social assistance.
“With both the state of Ohio biennial budget and federal government appropriations in play right now, whether the positive growth in government and in healthcare and social assistance can continue is in doubt,” Zeller cautioned. He said Ohio’s employment growth in previous months was slowed down by cuts to government.
“The new May 2017 figures demonstrate that government austerity policies are counterproductive because they slow down Ohio’s job growth rate,” he said. “The new May 2017 data demonstrate that increases in government have an impact of improving the Ohio job growth rate.”
Zeller noted that Ohio’s job losses since the 2000 mild national recession are now 117,500 jobs, a figure over two percent (-2.1 percent) below the number of jobs that Ohio had in March 2000 when Ohio employment reached a peak.
“The need for Ohio to improve its job growth performance up to national norms remains urgent, so that the 117,500 Ohio workers who cannot find a job because Ohio’s job growth rate is still too slow can actually obtain employment,” Zeller said.
Frayed And Wearing Thin
It’s possible that Kasich’s flim flam governance strategy based on tax giveaways to those who don’t need it is finally fraying at the edges. Republican legislators in charge of the General Assembly, and the next budget it’s supposed to deliver in balanced fashion by the end of June, are so ideologically frozen in their inability to take a different route on taxes that austerity is their only recourse.
Now that all the governor’s promises of razzle dazzle budgeting that were supposed to improve the economy like magic have shown how poorly his tricks work in reality, the time to spare the rod by spoiling Ohio’s CEO-style leader has arrived. Whatever plaudits Kasich earned from going to bat for expanded Medicaid are essentially worthless in the face of how bad the Buckeye State has fared under his watch.
Slow economic growth, slow population growth, failing schools, rising child poverty, foolish tax giveaways, budgets out of balance, and millions of Ohioans fearful of losing health care coverage if Republicans in Washington pass a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that could leave 23 million with a lump of coal in their healthcare sock, are all part of a larger smorgasboard of bad governance options Kasich and a like-minded legislature have delivered.
Democrats running for governor have many issues to focus on that, if reversed, would do more to boost Ohio. Jobs, government, pension funds, the list of issues where Ohio’s 69th governor has gone into the ditch goes on. Pick one; any issue will due. Then take it to the voters next year.