The economies of Ohio’s metro areas are expected to accelerate this year after a difficult 2013 for many of them, part of a trend that’s also playing out nationally.
All 13 metro areas should improve this year, a step up from last year, when seven metro areas saw their economies fall, according to a U.S. Conference of Mayors report released yesterday.
Jim Diffley, chief regional economist with IHS Global Insight, which prepared the report, said the state’s economies and that of the nation should improve as a cloud of uncertainty begins to lift.
“Finally, we’re seeing things coming together,” he said.
The threat of a government shutdown is over for now, the European and Asian economies are showing signs of being stronger than in 2013, auto sales are stronger, and consumer spending is increasing though still muted, he said. The final piece is a stronger real-estate market with home prices going up and foreclosures continuing to decline, he said.
“It’s not an exceptionally bullish forecast, but finally we have evidence that it is happening,” he said.
The economies of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan outpaced many other parts of the country coming out of the recession because of gains in manufacturing and because the states had lost so many jobs during the recession compared with other states, he said. But those manufacturing gains have mostly leveled off, as have the job gains.
Columbus is the only metro area in the state to recover all the jobs lost during the recession. No others are expected to get back to even until at least 2016.
Ohio is not expected to recover all of the more than 400,000 jobs the state lost during the recession until at least early 2017, according to IHS.
The state is trying to shift to a workforce built more on high tech and a more-advanced manufacturing economy, but that takes time, Diffley said. The state’s economy also is hurt by a slow-growing, older population.
The Columbus economy is expected to post the strongest economic growth at 2.3 percent this year, followed by Steubenville, Sandusky and Toledo.
Last year, the best-performing economy in the state was the Canton-Massillon area with economic growth of 1.7 percent. Columbus, Akron and Cincinnati were next at 1.6 percent.
The Columbus region also is expected to show a 2.5 percent gain in jobs and a 5.8 percent unemployment rate this year. Both also would be the best among the state’s metro areas.
Nationally, 356 of 363 metro areas are projected to experience economic growth this year, up from 2013 when 97 metros had declining economies.
The report said that the country is expected to recover all the jobs that were lost in the recession by this summer, and that the U.S. unemployment rate, currently 6.7 percent, should fall to 6.5 percent this year and 5.9 percent in 2015.
By Mark Williams - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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