Ohio’s unemployment rate rose to 7 percent in January even as the state added more workers, figures released Friday show.
The number of nonfarm wage and salary workers employed in the state increased by 3,800 to 5,178,800 in January.
The rise in the unemployment rate is largely because thousands more people renewed job searches, meaning they were once again counted as unemployed. (People who are jobless and who have stopped looking for work are not counted as unemployed.)
In addition, a regular, annual revision to state employment data going back years shows Ohio needs to do much more to create jobs, said George Zeller, an economic research analyst in Cleveland who studies unemployment figures.
The revised state figures released Friday show Ohio is on a streak of below average job growth, Zeller said. Job growth in Ohio from August 2012 through January has been below the national average, he said the revised figures show.
Ohio lost 165,400 jobs in 2008 and lost 250,800 jobs in 2009, Zeller said the revised figures revealed. The state gained 55,100 jobs in 2010 and 77,600 in 2011, he said.
Preliminary 2012 jobs figures had Ohio with a gain of 90,700 — but the more accurate revised figure released Friday shows a gain of just 40,300 last year, Zeller said.
“The problem is that today’s gain of 3,800 jobs in Ohio is growth, but that growth is too slow, and we urgently need to speed up the rate of recovery,” Zeller said. “We are recovering still. The recovery is still good weak. We are gaining jobs, but too few.”
The state’s recovery is being hurt by job losses in government, finance and insurance, Zeller said. Manufacturing appears to be leading the jobs recovery in Ohio, he said.
Friday’s release showed Ohio’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7 percent for January was up from 6.7 percent in December, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services reported. The rate was 7.6 percent in January 2012.
The January 2013 rate rose because 11,000 more people were looking for work than in December, jobs agency spokesman Benjamin Johnson said. An increase in job searchers is typical during an economic recovery, he said.
“When a recession ends, we expect at some point to see the labor force start to grow again as those people regain confidence and start looking for a job again,” Johnson said. “It remains to be seen whether this is specific to January, or whether this is a trend and the labor force will grow over the coming months.
“A growing labor force is a positive development, even though it often increases the unemployment rate temporarily,” Johnson said.
January marked the first time Ohio’s monthly unemployment rate failed to decline or at least remain steady since July 2011, according to state data. The rate has fallen steadily since peaking at 10.6 percent during 2009 and 2010. It averaged 7.2 percent last year. The 7 percent rate in January was the highest since September.
The Ohio unemployment rate remains below the national rate. The U.S. unemployment rate for February was 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent in January.
The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in January was 399,000, up from 385,000 in December, according to the jobs agency.
Beacon Journal business writer Jim Mackinnon contributed to this story.