October 20, 2017
October 20, 2017
September gains pull Ohio closer to the national growth rate
September was a good month for job growth in Ohio. The state added 10,500 jobs, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released today by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). This is welcome news after a couple months of underwhelming growth. September’s numbers raised the state’s 12-month growth rate to 1.1 percent, bringing Ohio close to the national average (1.2 percent). However, it took devastating hurricanes to help bring that about. Last month, the nation lost jobs for the first time since the end of the recession. This pulled down the national rate.
“Extreme weather elsewhere and a solid month of Ohio job growth almost closed the gap between national and state job growth over the year. But the 64,600 jobs gained in the state over the past 12 months is a mediocre gain compared to years in the past. That doesn’t match most annual growth rates seen since the end of recession and is far from the rates we saw in the mid-1990s.” said Hannah Halbert, researcher with Policy Matters Ohio. “Ohio needs many more months of strong growth to drive wage growth. A tighter labor market helps bring up wages across the economy, something Ohio desperately needs. Most Ohio workers have seen their wages stagnate over a generation. Only the top-earning 30 percent of workers are better off now than comparable workers were in 1979.”
Too many jobs in Ohio are in low-wage occupations. Out of the 10 largest occupational categories in the state, seven pay so little that a typical worker, working full-time, year-round, would not earn enough to alleviate a family of three’s need for food assistance. This was not the case sixteen years ago, when only four of the largest occupations paid a median wage less than 130 percent of poverty.
“Ohio policy could address inequality. The state’s tax scheme drives money to the wealthiest people in the state, at the expense of investment in education, job training, and addiction treatment, which would help more Ohioans succeed. Increasing the state minimum wage would help 1.8 million workers.” Halbert said. “We know how to reverse these trends and build an economy that works for all, we just need the political will to make the changes.”
The labor force also grew last month by 8,000, according to a separate survey also released today by ODJFS. Employment grew and unemployment fell for the month. This is also a welcome break but only partially makes up for a rough August. Ohio needs 215,000 more people working or looking for work to match the state’s pre-recession labor force.
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