Spring Upswing: Positive job news for May
June 15, 2012
“May’s employment numbers are encouraging after the job losses reported in March and April. We will need to see many more months like this to erase the jobs deficit from the last two recessions in Ohio.” Hannah Halbert, policy liaison
Data from two separate surveys released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) today suggest that Ohio’s recovery has regained some steam. The state’s unemployment rate continued to fall in May, landing at 7.3 percent according to seasonally adjusted data released from ODJFS’s survey of households for May 2012.
A separate survey of employers also released today by ODJFS showed that Ohio added 19,600 jobs in May. Month-to-month data is highly subject to revision, and it is ill advised to make too much of month-to-month comparisons. However today’s data suggest that Ohio’s job market may be regaining some momentum after a weak beginning to the spring.
There is more certainty in examining longer-term job trends. Even with the positive reports earlier this year, recovery in Ohio remains painfully slow. Since the official end of the great recession in June 2009, the state has had modest job growth of just 2.1 percent, with the addition of 108,100 jobs. Since May 2011, the state job total has grown by 75,700, or 1.5 percent. At the rate of growth Ohio has experienced over the past 12 months, it will still take nearly three and a half years to generate the additional 261,500 jobs needed to return Ohio to pre-2007 recession levels of employment. That figure would be even higher if population growth were taken into account.
Figure 2 highlights changes in the Ohio job market from key points in time, including the 2001 and 2007 recessions, and the 2005 approval of a major state tax overhaul, which promised speedier economic growth. These figures include the latest seasonally-adjusted data from the monthly survey of employers (Current Employer Survey) done by ODJFS in co-operation with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Table 1 details these changes. Not only is the state struggling to recover from the 2007 recession, Ohio never recovered from the 2001 recession, having lost more than 433,000 jobs since that recession began. Since the start of the 2007 recession, the state has lost 261,500 jobs. If Ohio had avoided cuts to state and local public jobs at the end of the 2007 recession, an additional 23,700 Ohioans would be employed.
Job growth has been far too slow but some gains have been made. As Figure 3 shows, the manufacturing sector has had steady but slow growth since the end of the 2007 recession. Manufacturing has been a bright spot in Ohio’s recovery not only because of consistent job gains but also because the sector has historically produced jobs with family sustaining wages and benefits. In April, the manufacturing sector posted its first job loss since September 2011. May’s report shows a return to positive growth in this important sector.
Recent WARN notices in Ohio
The Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification (WARN) Act protects workers and communities by requiring employers with more than 100 employees to provide 60 days’ advance notice of plant closures or mass layoffs. Federal, state, and local government entities are not covered. WARN triggers rapid response services, which can include layoff aversion, training and dislocated worker assistance. As Table 2 shows, ten WARN Act notices were filed with ODJFS in May, impacting 3,155 workers, of whom 1,910 are in a union. In May, many of the WARN layoffs centered on food and pharmaceutical distribution. RG Steel’s idling of steel-making facilities in Warren and elsewhere affected the largest number of workers.
While today’s report is good news for the state, one thing is clear: Ohio remains a long way from robust recovery. We need increased investment to restore our communities and grow good jobs.