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JobWatch: Ohio closing in on total jobs recovery

March 10, 2023

JobWatch: Ohio closing in on total jobs recovery

March 10, 2023

Slow public sector hiring hampers progress

The takeaway: The annual benchmark to jobs data showed that Ohio’s job recovery was stronger than previously reported and Ohio is now in striking distance of restoring the jobs lost to COVID-19. Public officials’ failure to restore state and local government jobs is the biggest drag on recovery and accounts for nearly two thirds of the jobs still missing. Inflation fell to 6.4% in January.

The benchmark: The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) released their annual benchmark data revisions today, which show that Ohio has recovered more jobs from the COVID recession than initially thought. The state is now just 44,300 jobs short of our number in February 2020, the last month before COVID-19 caused massive job losses.

The benchmark made no change to previously reported 2020 jobs numbers and confirms that Ohio lost 861,600 jobs by April 2020, in the midst of the stay-at-home order issued by Gov. DeWine in response to the public health emergency. Buoyed by unprecedented federal stimulus — including strong unemployment benefits — Ohio rapidly restored more than half of those jobs by July 2020 after the order was lifted that June. After the rapid initial rebound in the second half of 2020, jobs recovered more slowly. Still, Ohio has added jobs in all but five of the 33 months of recovery.

Government officials’ failure to restore 28,300 public sector jobs at the local (-19,400 jobs) and state levels (-9,100 jobs) now stands out as the single largest drag on jobs recovery; 63.9% of the jobs still missing from Ohio are in the public sector.

Statement from Policy Matters Ohio senior researcher, Michael Shields: “Today’s revised job numbers are resoundingly good news. This benchmark revision cuts the number of jobs reported missing from Ohio by more than half. Combined with moderating inflation levels, this is a great picture for Ohio’s jobs economy.”

“Smart federal policy has driven this robust recovery, in contrast to the tide of government spending cuts that made Ohio’s recovery from the Great Recession such a long slog. Ohio jobs recovered fastest in the months when we had the strongest unemployment benefits, because those dollars meant Ohioans who couldn’t work could still cover the basics, and sustained the consumer spending that made sure Ohioans sent home by COVID-19 had a job to go back to."

The January numbers: Today’s jobs data update also showed that Ohio employers added 14,600 jobs in January, from an upwardly revised total of 5,554,700 in December to 5,569,500 in January.

The household survey: According to the separate household survey, 12,000 Ohioans took new jobs in January, reducing the number of unemployed by 7,000 people and pulling 4,000 Ohioans into the workforce, a sign of a strong labor market (the two groups don’t sum to 12,000 because of rounding). The number of Ohioans working or actively seeking jobs (5,724,000) was 175,000 fewer than in February 2020 before the COVID-19 disruption. This could be a lingering effect of disabilities brought on by long COVID, a signal that the conditions and compensation for work are simply not working for many people, or a combination of these and other factors. Ohio’s workforce participation rate (61.2%) was 1.2 points lower than the nation’s (62.4%) and slightly lower than Ohio’s level a year ago (61.4%). Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.0%, while the nation’s was 3.4%, a low not reached since 1968. That was also the year Congress passed the highest federal minimum wage on record, worth $14 an hour today.

Quote from Shields: “As we approach a full recovery of the jobs lost to the COVID recession, let’s not forget the commitment made by frontline essential workers to get us through the crisis. The pandemic showcased how much we had always depended on the child care workers; food production and retail workers; health aides and others paid some of the lowest wages in our state. Those are the people who kept us safe and fed through the crisis, treated our loved ones and held hands with those who didn’t make it through when we could not. It’s time for Ohio lawmakers to take care of the Ohioans who take care of us, by ensuring that every Ohio job pays a wage that meets the cost of living and honors the skill and dedication of those doing the work.”

Ohio on track to historic recovery
Ohio jobs January 2000 – January 2023

JobWatch: Ohio closing in on total jobs recovery

Source: Current employment statistics. Initial estimates precede the 2022 benchmark. Benchmark adjusts previous estimates to state unemployment insurance tax records.


2023JobWatchMichael Shields

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