Jobless rate plunges to lowest in 3 years

Dayton Daily News - January 20, 2012

More Ohioans say they have stopped searching for jobs.

By Randy Tucker

Ohio’s unemployment rate nose-dived in December to its lowest level in three years, according to data released Friday by the Department of Job and Family Services.

But the drop from 8.5 percent in November to 8.1 percent last month – the largest monthly decline in nearly three decades – was mainly the result of discouraged workers shelving their job searches.

For the second month in a row, more than 20,000 Ohioans said last month they had given up looking for work and thus were no longer counted as unemployed.

“We haven’t made much of a dent in the unemployment rate, really,” said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics in Cleveland.

In fact, Ohio’s nonfarm payroll declined from November to December by 3,300 positions, according to the state jobs department.

The most significant losses were in professional and business services, which lost 4,700 jobs. Meanwhile, the government sector led job gains with 3,100.

For the year, nonfarm employment grew by 72,400 jobs – up 1.4 percent from 2010.

Still, 469,000 workers remained unemployed in Ohio last month, according to government data. And the job market has a long way to go before it fully recovers from the damage of the Great Recession, said Hannah Halbert, policy liaison with Policy Matters Ohio.

“While a falling unemployment rate is welcome news, we need sustained, major employment growth,” Halbert said. “Unfortunately, today’s data parallels November’s labor force decline, and that is not good news for Ohio.”

Declining labor force participation also has been a factor in the falling national unemployment rate, which ticked down from 8.7 percent in November to 8.5 percent last month.

But U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in December, marking the sixth straight month in which the economy added at least 100,000 jobs.

For the year, the U.S. economy added 1.6 million jobs in 2011 – up from 940,000 in 2010.

And economists say they expect roughly 1.9 million more jobs to be added this year, according to an Associated Press survey.

Jobless rate plunges to lowest in 3 years

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