Gov. John Kasich optimistic as Ohio unemployment rate drops
Cleveland Plain Dealer - December 16, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio’s unemployment rate in November posted its largest month-to-month drop in 28 years, a sign that the state’s efforts at job creation are working, said Gov. John Kasich.
The November rate was 8.5 percent, down from 9 percent in October. The unemployment rate was 9.6 percent a year ago.
The rate is lower than the national unemployment rate, which also enjoyed some recent good news, dropping to 8.6 percent from 9 percent in October.
“These things have a tendency to move around and I think in our state we have a tendency to always look at the glass as half empty,” Kasich said Friday. “Well, now it is half full and the sun is up.”
The Republican governor has made job creation and retention the staple of his administration as he wraps up his first year in office. Kasich this week announced more than 500 new jobs coming to a Cincinnati company and on Tuesday will be in the Cleveland area with additional job news.
The administration has worked to improve the state’s credit rating and then followed that with an aggressive marketing plan, enticing companies with a mix of tax credits and grants in return for jobs. Kasich says Ohio is up a net 45,000 private sector jobs from the start of the year.
Democrats quickly assumed some credit for the economic bounce back. They noted that many of those jobs Kasich cited are within the automobile industry in Northeast and Northwest Ohio that were first boosted by President Barack Obama’s auto industry stimulus package.
“Unemployment in Ohio has now gone down since President Obama took office, thanks in large part to his efforts like rescuing the auto industry,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Seth Bringman.
But Policy Matters Ohio, a governmental policy think tank, threw cold water on both Republicans and Democrats with its statement entitled, “Nothing to crow about.”
Policy Matters said the unemployment rate drop has less to do with people finding jobs and more to do with the fact that fewer people are looking for work. The unemployment rate is calculated using the number of people actively looking for employment.
“Many people, particularly during prolonged periods of high unemployment, stop seeking work and drop out of the labor force,” the Policy Matters statement said. It noted that people may have chosen to stay home to raise children or returned to school and thus they are no longer counted among the unemployed.
The think tank noted that while 30,000 fewer people were counted as unemployed by Ohio in November, which drove the rate drop, just 7,000 of them actually found jobs.
Kasich said the rate drop and his jobs announcements are driving renewed optimism that Ohio is headed in the right direction coming off a recession that had pushed the state’s unemployment rate into double-digit territory. He answered critics this way.
“At least we are not going backward. We are going forward and we’re going up. I think we are a lot more active and we have a lot more friendly business environment,” Kasich said.
Even competing for companies that ultimately Ohio didn’t get, like the Sears deal that fell through this week, has companies curious about the state’s new zeal for making itself over as business friendly, the governor said.
“It is just a good sign,” Kasich said. “We’ve played three or four holes but we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of golf course to go. I just hope people have a little more optimism.”
The last time Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped by at least one-half percentage point from one month to the next was in July 1983 when it fell to 11.4 percent from 13.1.