Ohio’s unemployment rate inched down in December to 6.7 percent, but the drop was because people dropped out of the labor force.
There were 8,000 fewer people in the labor force — those employed or looking for work — last month, according to a report released Friday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
“Many of those 8,000 are discouraged” and are no longer looking for work, said George Zeller, a Cleveland researcher who analyzes economic data for Northeast Ohio policymakers.
The unemployment rate does not count the number of people without jobs — only the number of people who are looking but can’t find work.
Zeller acknowledged that some people drop out of the labor force because they retire or decide to stay home with children. But he believes many of those dropping out are “discouraged workers” who have looked for a long time and given up.
Ohio lost 9,400 jobs last month, making the labor market tighter, Zeller noted.
For the year, the state gained 90,700 jobs, according to data released by the state.
But Zeller said Ohio’s labor market recovery is still too slow. He pointed to the 251,500 fewer jobs in the state since the national recession began in December 2007.
“That’s 4.6 percent of all the jobs we had in Ohio in 2007,” he said. “That’s an enormous number of jobs.”
The situation is worse, he said, when one looks at Ohio jobs losses going back to the 2000 recession. Since December 2000, Ohio has lost 465,100 jobs.
A bright spot, Zeller said, is that the December figures show that Ohio’s job growth rate is above the national average for the second month in a row.
Given the overall job losses in the state, Zeller said, “that’s not saying much good news. All that’s telling us we are not the only ones [in the country] that are having problems.”
The state report shows that Ohio’s nonfarm wage and salary employment declined 9,400 in December, from a revised 5,194,400 in November to 5,185,000 in December.
Ohio lost 10,400 jobs in the service sector last month, while it gained 1,000 jobs in goods-producing industries. .
In the service sector, the job losses occurred in leisure and hospitality (4,900 jobs), government (2,100) and financial activities (1,300), among other industries. Professional and business services added 400 jobs.
In the goods-producing sector, manufacturing and construction added 900 and 100 jobs respectively. Mining and logging employment remained unchanged over the month.
Zeller said the manufacturing gains are particularly encouraging; he noted that the manufacturing sector has been driving the state’s recovery.
For 2012, manufacturing employment was up by 15,300 jobs, with durable goods industries gaining 8,700 jobs and nondurable goods up 6,600 jobs.
Concerning the unemployment rate, Ohio’s seasonally adjusted jobless figure of 6.7 percent for December is more than a percentage point lower than the national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.8 percent for December 2012.
The state’s rate in November 2012 was 6.8 percent and the rate in October 2012 was 6.9 percent. The rate for a year ago, December 2011, was 7.9 percent.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or email@example.com.