Jobless rate continues slow decline

Toledo Blade - May 19, 2012

Randy Tucker

Report: Job openings fall by 3,400 in 1 month

Ohio’s unemployment rate edged down for the ninth consecutive month in April, dropping to 7.4 percent from 7.5 percent in March as the number of unemployed workers continued to decline, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported Friday.

The number of unemployed fell by 7,000 to 431,000 and more people joined the labor force, which grew by 6,000 to 5,811,000, according to the state jobs report.

But there were fewer jobs to accommodate those people who are entering or re-entering the workforce as total nonfarm employment fell by 3,400 from March to April.

While the jobs data contained mixed results, the overall trend was positive, said Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the state jobs department.

“We want to see the labor force grow, and we want to see unemployment decline. But we also want to see total non-ag employment increase,’’ Johnson said.

Amy Hanauer, founder of the Cleveland-based think-tank Policy Matters Ohio, said it’s still too early to celebrate. “It’s great if the unemployment rate falls a little bit, but we’re just not experiencing the level of job growth the economy used to experience during previous recoveries,’’ Hanauer said.

Since April 2011, the state job total has only grown 0.9 percent. At that rate, it would take nearly six years to generate the additional 282,500 jobs needed to return Ohio to pre-2007 recession levels, based on a Policy Matters’ study.

Last month, most of the job growth in Ohio was concentrated in the government sector, where school districts and state and federal agencies added 2,900 jobs, according to the state jobs report. Professional and business services added 1,900 jobs, and education and health services added 1,500. But those gains were offset by widespread job losses in trade, transportation and utilities.

Still, Ohio’s unemployment rate is down sharply from 8.8 percent in April last year and well below the 8.1 percent national rate. Ohio unemployment also is well below it’s peak of 10.6 percent, and the state is no longer losing more jobs than it’s creating in the long term.

Eugene Jackson, who lost his job at Lincoln Mercury of Dayton when the dealership closed in 2010, said people lamenting the sluggish job growth should instead be thankful for the jobs that have been created. “When I first started looking, there were no jobs out there, period,’’ said Jackson, 39, who landed a job earlier this year at Beau Townsend Ford in Vandalia.

Jobless rate continues slow decline  — Report: Job openings fall by 3,400 in 1 month

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