Greater Cleveland lost more jobs than any metro area in the country (poll)

Plain Dealer - July 3, 2013

Olivera Perkins of the Plain Dealer wrote a solid piece on the job situation in the Cleveland area, citing our workforce researcher, Hannah Halbert, and former board member George Zeller.

The Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area lost 5,600 jobs between May 2012 and May 2013, placing total employment in the region at about 1.02 million.

“This new finding … certifies that, in our region, we are getting no recovery at all right now,” said George Zeller of Cleveland, an economic research analyst. “That is alarming, of course.”

The report looked at employment in 372 metro areas and showed Atlantic City, which lost 4,200 jobs, finishing second to Cleveland and Peoria, Ill. in third, losing 3,500 jobs.

For Zeller and others studying local labor markets, the Cleveland area’s first-place finish was disturbing, but not necessarily surprising. Through most of the recession — which ran from December 2007 to June 2009 — and during the recovery, Northeast Ohio tended to be less hard hit by job loss because the economy tends to be more diversified than in other parts of the state.

But now Northeast Ohio appears to be hard hit by the loss of government jobs, experts say.

“Public jobs in the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor region decreased by 1.8 percent over the last 12-months,” said Hannah Halbert, who studies Ohio’s labor force as part of her job as policy liaison for the nonprofit Policy Matters Ohio, citing Labor Department statistics.  “These losses drag down our recovery.

“Sequestration and state budget cuts work against a return to peak employment,” she said.

Perkins notes that the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor metro area’s poor showing came in a month in which Ohio led the nation in job gains, by increasing employment by 32,100. 

Both Halbert and Zeller want such growth to continue, but they question whether it can. During several months covered by Tuesday’s report, the state often experienced a volatile labor market sometimes characterized by big monthly swings between employment losses and gains.

Said Halbert: “I hope that the job gains in May can be repeated. But it’s clear that, over many, many months of data, national and state austerity policy has held back job growth in Ohio. Public investment is particularly important in our metro areas.

“We need investment in infrastructure, education, and workforce training, not more cuts,” she said.  

Full story: Greater Cleveland lost more jobs than any metro area in the country (poll)
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