Beacon Journal staff, wire report
Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped in December but remained higher than a year ago.
The state jobless rate was 7.2 percent last month, down from 7.4 percent in November but higher than 6.7 percent in December 2012, according to figures the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services released Friday.
The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.7 percent last month, down from 7 percent in November.
The number of unemployed Ohio workers was 416,000 last month, or 11,000 fewer than in November. There were 31,000 fewer people working than a year ago.
The unemployment figures do not count jobless people who have stopped looking for work nor people working part time but who want full-time work.
There were 5,200,600 people counted as working in Ohio in December, up 5,000 from a revised 5,195,600 in November.
Using a different set of information, there were 5,322,000 people counted as employed in Ohio in December. That is down 324,000 from a peak for the month (since 2000) of 5,646,000 in December 2006. The unemployment rate in December 2006 was 5.4 percent.
“The new December 2013 data find that Ohio is still recovering from both the 2000s recession and the 2007 Great Recession,” George Zeller, Cleveland-based economic analyst, said. “Ohio’s growth remains too slow.”
Ohio’s job growth continues to lag the overall job growth rate in the United States, Zeller said.
At the current rate Ohio is producing jobs, it will take 17 years for the state to recover jobs lost in the 2000s recession, Zeller said.
In addition to slow private-sector jobs growth, “a counterproductive policy of slashing government employment continues to prevent Ohio from speeding up the growth rate to a vigorous employment recovery that the state badly needs,” he said.
Policy Matters Ohio, a state policy research institute with offices in Columbus and Cleveland, also bemoaned Ohio’s job growth.
“The state saw big gains and big losses in early 2013, and while the size of the monthly fluctuations has shrunk, the overall pattern has remained the same,” Hannah Halbert, Policy Matters Ohio workforce researcher, said. “We are on a job growth seesaw, producing weak growth. It’s not the upward trajectory that Ohio workers so desperately need.”
Over the year, Ohio added a total of 25,600 jobs, not a healthy growth rate, the organization said. During the 1980s and 1990s economic recoveries, Ohio often gained close to 100,000 jobs a year, Policy Matters Ohio said.
The state said goods-producing industries added 5,600 jobs from November to 852,700 in December. Construction added 4,000 jobs; manufacturing was up 1,400; and mining and logging added 200.
Private service-sector jobs fell 200 from November to 3,607,900 in December. Professional and business services grew by 3,400, while leisure and hospitality added 2,400.
Beacon Journal business reporter Jim Mackinnon contributed to this story.