Ohio job data send a mixed message

- October 19, 2012
For immediate release
Contact: Hannah Halbert, 614 221.4505

Data from two separate surveys released today by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) present a mixed message on job growth in September. The household survey delivered one of the most positive reports this year, with unemployment dropping to 7.0 percent, the lowest rate in four years. The data also showed an increase in the state’s labor force, something not seen in three months. Taken on its own it is very good news for the state.

The establishment survey, often the more reliable of the reports presented a conflicting report, showing that the job count fell by more than 12,000 jobs in September. This is the largest monthly drop in jobs since July 2009.

“While it is frustrating to job-watchers looking for trends in job growth, conflicting survey data are not unusual,” said Hannah Halbert, policy liaison with Policy Matters Ohio. “The monthly numbers are always preliminary and subject to revision, so it is ill advised to make too much of month to month changes.” The surveys may tell conflicting stories because they survey different groups. The establishment survey carries more statistical weight because the survey is based on a much larger sample size than the household survey.  

On the other hand, the household survey includes trends in self-employment and agricultural work, both of which are not measured in the establishment survey. The establishment survey also has difficulty measuring employment at new firms, and according to the Secretary of State’s office, new firm filings increased in September and are out pacing last year’s filing rate.

Based on this month’s establishment report, the slow but steady job growth seen over the past month appears to be wavering. August’s gain of 400 jobs was disappointing. September’s reported loss is certainly a move in the wrong direction. Over the last twelve months, the state job total has grown by 88,700 jobs, or 1.7 percent. At that rate of growth it will take nearly three years to generate the additional 243,200 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.

“September’s report is truly a hodgepodge of data, said Halbert.” “The one thing that is clear from this month’s report is that Ohio’s economy is fragile and we remain a long way from full recovery. We need increased investment, not austerity, to restore our communities and grow good jobs.”


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