Tuesday, Jul 25, 2017
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Economy

Ohio unemployment rate improves

But loss of jobs in April worries economists

Ohio’s unemployment rate improved to 5 percent in April, though the state’s job growth has been anemic at best since the calendar rolled over to 2017.

The state’s unemployment rate also remains higher than the national unemployment rate, which was 4.4 percent in April, down from 4.5 percent in March.

The state has added about 9,100 jobs since December — representing a growth rate of less than 0.2 percent — but lost 5,700 jobs in April, according to figures released Friday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The United States as a whole has added 738,000 jobs in that time frame, including 211,000 in April, an increase of 0.5 percent.

Ohio has added about 36,000 jobs over the last 12 months. 

However, its growth rate of 0.7 percent is less than half the national job growth rate over the last 12 months, which was 1.7 percent, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

George Mokrzan, the chief economist at Columbus-based Huntington Bank, said that while the state’s unemployment rate suggests a healthy economy, the fact that job growth is slowing is something to keep an eye on.

“It’s good that it’s growing, but it doesn’t meet the rate of growth of employment in Ohio in previous years,” he said.

State data show Ohio added 22,900 jobs from December, 2015, to April, 2016.

“That could be an indication of slower economic growth,” Mr. Mokrzan said.

The results are worrying to some, who say the state is falling behind the rest of the nation in its recovery.

“The new data document the continuation of an excessively slow rate of Ohio job growth,” said George Zeller, a Cleveland-area economic researcher. 

“At the current sub-par rate of job growth in Ohio during April, 2017, it will take Ohio nearly three years to recover the jobs that Ohio previously lost during the 2000s recession. That is extremely troubling,” Mr. Zeller said.

The state’s jobs report showed Ohio lost more than 13,000 goods-producing jobs from March to April. More than half — 7,400 — were in construction. Manufacturing employment fell by 5,800. Even so, both sectors were up slightly from April, 2016.

The state’s service industries fared better in April, adding 9,400 jobs. The gains were driven in large part by professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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