Whether the rise in Ohio’s unemployment rate this year continued in September will be a mystery for the time being.
The partial shutdown of the federal government means that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services won’t be issuing an unemployment report as it typically does on the third Friday of the month. The same goes for county-by-county data and the metropolitan unemployment numbers that are due on Tuesday.
The state depends on federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data to assemble the report, and both agencies have been affected by the shutdown.
The last time there was a delay in the release of state employment data was 1996, which also was the last time there was a government shutdown.
The report will be released eventually, but no date has been set, said Benjamin Johnson, a Job and Family Services spokesman.
“For right now, it’s just wait and see,” he said.
The last report, for August, showed the state had an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent, the highest rate in more than a year. The state’s unemployment rate has been moving higher for much of the year.
Economists say the lack of a government employment report and other economic data creates more uncertainty for businesses that count on that information. Without that information, they are inclined to do nothing until they get more clarity, they said.
“At this point, we’re waiting and hoping everything will get resolved,” said Dan Meges, an economist with Chmura Economics & Analytics in Cleveland.
Meges said a delay of a month, however, shouldn’t be much of a problem.
“If for some reason this goes on a little longer ... then it could start to matter,” he said. “ Everybody kind of depends on this data — (the Federal Reserve), banks and little firms like ours."
Similar data is available from other sources, but it tends to be more expensive to obtain or the information might not be collected the same way, which can make comparisons difficult, he said.
“There have been several times over the past 15 days when a census stat would have been handy but was unavailable,” said Bill LaFayette, owner of local economic-consulting firm Regionomics. “ There are work-arounds, but they are limited and clunky.”
The shutdown also delayed the release of the national unemployment report for August.
One other possible source for economic data is payroll provider ADP, which provides a monthly report on private-sector employment that is based on transactions by the company’s clients. This spring, ADP began to provide reports for many states.
“That’s something I’ve been paying attention to for the last few months,” LaFayette said. “I guess that’s better than nothing.”
ADP’s report for September, released last week, showed Ohio gained 8,080 private-sector jobs, including a gain of 2,080 manufacturing jobs. The gain was well above the average of the past year of 4,000 to 5,000 jobs a month.
“The job market in Ohio appears to be stronger,’’ said Ahu Yildirmaz, ADP’s senior director of market insights.
She said ADP reports are benefiting because of the government shutdown.
“Traffic to our website is up,” she said. “We’re the only game in town.”
By Mark Williams - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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