Ohio’s unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent in April, the lowest rate since February 2008 and the same rate as when the recession began in December 2007, according to federal and state job reports released Friday.
Preliminary figures from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services show the April jobless rate was down from 6.1 percent in March and 7.3 percent in the same month a year ago. Ohio unemployment also was well below the U.S. unemployment rate for April of 6.3 percent — which was down from from 6.7 percent in March, and 7.5 percent in April 2013.
Ohio’s economy added 12,600 non-farm jobs last month, bringing the total number of jobs added in the past year to 55,300 — or just over 4,600 jobs a month, based on revised figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The annual pace of job growth through April was more than twice the rate in the previous year, when Ohio added just over 2,000 jobs a month from April 2012 through April 2013, the job numbers show.
As a result, the number of unemployed in Ohio declined by 94,000 in the past 12 months from 422,000.
“More Ohioans have a job since we took office. Ohioans’ hard work, creativity & ingenuity has us on the comeback,” Gov. John Kasich tweeted.
The good job news comes on the heels of local announcements this week that Fuyao, the Chinese automotive glass maker finalized their purchase of part of the former General Motors assembly plant in Moraine and that Procter & Gamble will create a distribution center in Union, near the Dayton International Airport. Fuyao has pledged to put 800 workers there within three to five years,The P&G distribution center will employ 800 employees.
Still, job growth in Ohio has been slower than the national rate of hiring over the past year, and employment has been dominated by low-wage jobs at restaurants, retail establishments and other service providing industries, which added 40,200 jobs in the past 12 months, the state job report shows.
That was double the employment gains in next fastest-growing job sector — goods-producing industries, such as manufacturing and construction — which added 19,700 over the same period.
Also worrisome, experts said, is that the sharp decline in the jobless rate over the past year is largely attributable to people giving up their job searches or dropping out of the labor force for some other reason, such as going back to school or retiring early.
“Today’s 5.7 percent rate is very different than the 5.7 rate of December 2007,” Hannah Halbert of Policy Matters Ohio wrote in a research report Friday.
According to Halbert, Ohio’s labor force has shrunk by 211,000 workers — or by 3.5 percent — since the recession began, and employment is still down by 182,000.
Even without accounting for the number of jobs needed to accommodate population growth across the state, Ohio would still need to add another 120,600 jobs just to make up for those lost in the 2007 recession, Halbert said.
“April’s upswing is good news,” she said. “But we still have a long way to go to recovery.”
By Randy Tucker - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)
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