Good jobs news to start the holidays, but Congress needs to extend unemployment benefits
- November 16, 2012
After a mixed September report, data from two separate surveys released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) today present a more consistent and encouraging picture of Ohio’s economy. ODJFS’s survey of households shows another drop Ohio’s unemployment rate, which fell 0.2 percentage points, to 6.9 percent. This is the lowest the unemployment rate has been since August 2008. The household survey brought additional good news in that the Ohio labor force increased in October, by 14,000, the largest monthly increase in more than a decade. Yet, this remarkable monthly estimate combined with last month’s growth only makes up for slightly more than a third of the losses from June-August of this year.
A separate survey, the establishment survey, which provides the job count by surveying firms and generally carries more statistical weight, echoes the positive news. The survey shows that the state replaced the 12,000 jobs lost in September, and gained an additional 1,900 jobs. This brings the total estimated job growth for October to 13,900 jobs.
“October’s relatively large job gain represents a bounce back from the previous two months,” said Hannah Halbert, policy liaison with Policy Matters Ohio. Overall, the state has added a net 2,300 jobs since August. In contrast, from May to July, the state added more than 50,000 jobs. Over the last twelve months, the state job total has grown by 96,500 jobs, or 1.9 percent. “While this is a major improvement, Ohio needs a continuation of the November gains to reach pre-recession employment levels.”
Ohio’s job deficit, or the difference between the number of jobs Ohio has and the number of jobs needed to regain pre-recession levels of employment, is a staggering 350,700. That number includes the 228,500 jobs lost to the 2007-09 recession plus the 122,200 jobs needed to keep up with the population growth the state has experienced in the 58 months since the recession began. To close this gap in three years, Ohio would need to create at least 10,000 jobs per month.
This positive news should not eclipse Ohio’s continuing challenges. Long-term unemployment continues to be a major problem in Ohio, just as in the nation as a whole. In the year ended in September, the average Ohioan without a job was unemployed for 33.5 weeks, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since 2008, jobless workers in Ohio as elsewhere across the country have been able to receive additional benefits after the end of their state unemployment compensation (UC) benefits, which last up to 26 weeks in Ohio and most states. In Ohio, qualified workers are currently eligible for up to 37 additional weeks of these federal UC benefits. This not only provides crucial support to families, it bolsters the economy.
However, the federal program will end Dec. 29 if Congress does not act. During the week ended Nov. 3, 49,763 Ohioans filed continued claims for these federal benefits, according to ODJFS. Thousands more will run out of their state benefits early next year.
“As elected officials at the state and federal level make policy choices to deal with budget shortfalls, they should avoid decisions that threaten to throw this tentative recovery into reverse,” said Halbert. “Congress should continue federal support for UC benefits to avoid the loss of income for tens of thousands of Ohioans and the negative effects that would have on their families and communities.”