Ohio jobless rate dips to 4.4 percent
Posted November 20, 2015 in Selected Press
Ohio’s unemployment rate in October fell to its lowest level in more than 14 years, dipping to 4.4 percent from 4.5 percent the previous month, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported Friday.
The state added 30,800 jobs last month with big gains in educational and health services, which boosted employment by 8,300 jobs; leisure and hospitality, up 7,000 jobs; and manufacturing and construction; which each added 5,800 jobs.
Those job gains offset losses in local government, where employment fell by 4,800 in October, and state government, where employment was down by 700 positions, according to the jobs report.
Over the past year, Ohio has added more than 77,000 jobs, and only California (41,200) and Florida (35,200) added more jobs last month than Ohio, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
“Today’s jobs report is good news for the state,” said Hannah Halbert, a workforce researcher with the nonprofit Policy Matters Ohio. She noted that October’s job gains pushed the total number of Ohio jobs above the number the state had when the recession officially began in December 2007.
Ohio now has 7,600 more jobs than it did when the recession began, according to Policy Matters.
“Regaining the number of jobs lost since the official start of the recession is a simple measure of progress,” Halbert said. “But it does not account for population gains over that time or the quality of work available to Ohioans.
“Through Census data, we know that even though more Ohioans are working, and workers have higher levels of education, we continue to see high levels of poverty and stagnant real wage growth.”
Halbert also cautioned against reading too much into the monthly jobs numbers, which are preliminary and frequently revised. The September jobs figure for Ohio was revised down by 3,500.
“This month shows a very large gain, but longer-term trends are more reliable indicators of the health of our economy,” she said.
West Virginia had the nation’s highest jobless rate (6.9 percent) and North Dakota had the lowest (2.8 percent). As a region, the Midwest had the lowest rate at 4.5 percent.
Even with October’s surge — which accounted for nearly 40 percent of Ohio’s job gains over the past year — the state continues to trail the nation as a whole for the rate of job growth, according to George Zeller, a Cleveland-based economic research analyst.
According to Zeller, the annual rate of job growth in Ohio was 1.43 percent after last month, compared to 1.94 percent for the United States.
“October was the 36th consecutive month when Ohio’s (annual) job growth was slower than the USA national average,” Zeller wrote in a research note. “This highly damaging streak has now been extended to three full years.”
Ohio’s job growth also has been tempered by historically low levels of labor force participation, which is largely responsible for the state’s unemployment rate falling to its lowest levels since 2001, according state jobs data.
Ohio’s labor force — the number of people working or actively seeking jobs — shrank by 28,000 over the past year and is down more than 272,000 since the start of the recession, jobs data shows.
The number of Ohioans not in the labor force has continued to rise, partly because of retiring baby-boomers and fewer workers entering the workforce. That contributes to lower jobless rates because people not in the labor force are not counted among the unemployed. Last month, about 249,000 Ohioans were counted as unemployed, down from 300,000 a year earlier.
Nationwide, the labor-force participation rate remained at a 38-year low, according to BLS, even as the U.S. unemployment rate edged down to 5 percent — the lowest level since April 2008 — from 5.1 percent in the previous month.
U.S. hiring was up by a higher-than-expected 271,000 jobs last month, leading many analysts to speculate that the economy has gained enough momentum to allow the Federal Reserve to begin raising interest rates from historically low levels.
States that added and lost the most jobs from September to October:
California — 41,200
Florida — 35,200
Ohio — 30,800
Louisiana — 6,200
Indiana — 3,400
North Carolina — 3,100
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Original Article: http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/ohio-jobless...