April 15, 2022
April 15, 2022
Public programs and projects can speed recovery and build a more resilient economy
The takeaway: Ohio follows the nation in a quick recovery, but state and local governments’ failure to restore critical public services is slowing us down. New ARPA dollars coming to the state and local governments next month are an opportunity to keep recovery moving and direct resources to the hardest hit.
“The contrast between this rapid recovery and recent past recessions could not be starker,” said Policy Matters Ohio Researcher Michael Shields. “And the lesson is clear: Government has the power and resources to quickly help people get back on their feet and back to work, even from enormous disruptions. Federal lawmakers drove this recovery nearly three times faster than from the Great Recession by deploying massive resources to shore up our communities and help people through the crisis. Last time they made cuts that compounded the problem. Building an economy that works for people of all races and backgrounds is a policy choice.”
The numbers: Seasonally adjusted data released today by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) show that Ohio employers restored 18,300 jobs over the month, from an upwardly revised 5,449,400 in February to 5,467,700 in March. These figures are from a survey of employers and preliminary numbers are subject to revision. Ohio has restored 64,700 jobs so far this year; an improvement over the first quarter of 2021 when Ohio regained 43,300 jobs. Ohio has restored 82.9% of jobs lost to COVID-19 and still needs 146,100 jobs to recover our pre-COVID number from February 2020.
The household survey: According to the separate household survey, 13,000 Ohioans entered the workforce last month to accept a job or begin their search, and 19,000 job seekers found work. Ohio’s unemployment rate fell 0.1 points to 4.1%. The nation’s rate was 0.5 points lower at 3.6% for March.
The details: Ohio goods producers are now just 1.6% short of their pre-COVID February 2020 level (-14,800 jobs). The larger service sector is 2.3% short (-89,700 jobs). Government job losses account for more than twice their share, falling 5.3% short of their pre-COVID level, with local (-25,200 jobs) and state government (-16,500) comprising nearly all 41,800 persistent losses. Government jobs account for 28.6% of the jobs still missing from Ohio and over the last year have recovered (0.2%) at only a tenth of the rate of private-sector production (2.1%) and service sector jobs (2.3%) – underscoring that Ohio policymakers have not done their part to contribute to the job recovery.
“State and local governments will get their second American Rescue Plan payments next month. It’s critical that officials direct those dollars to the people hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, said Shields. “Restoring public jobs will help local economies by putting more money in circulation and by providing communities with vital services."
“Policymakers should also use those dollars to shore up wages with premium pay for essential workers; create long-term worker protections by establishing local wage enforcement programs, and support high-quality workforce training programs, including pre-apprenticeships. The funding already provided by the federal government has the potential to restore the jobs hollowed out by COIVD-19 and transform lives for the better, but only if state and local policymakers prioritize people.”
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