In March, Ohio lost 20,400 jobs, the largest decline of any state. Two months later, the state leaped forward, the nation’s leader in job creation, adding 32,100 jobs. On Friday, the latest jobs numbers arrived, Ohio hurtling back down the ladder, 12,500 jobs lost, the second worst jobs performer in the country.
John Kasich once proclaimed an economic “miracle.” Now the governor and his team find themselves buffeted month to month, cheering “strong momentum,” then 30 days later reaching for a convenient rationale, the unemployment rate actually ticking upward in June. This isn’t a productive way to discuss the state economy.
Better to keep an eye on the longer term. Ohio has been adding jobs, ever since the final year of the Strickland administration. What has been discouraging is the pace, just an additional 16,000 jobs since June 2012, even with the boom in natural gas drilling. That falls far short of the recoveries in 1980s and 1990s, the state generating roughly 112,000 jobs a year.
What Ohioans should be weighing is whether the state is investing adequately in the foundation of the state economy, its people and public works. The governor has set in motion new resources for transportation. He knows the value of expanding Medicaid. Yet his devotion to ever deeper tax cuts comes at the expense of adequate funding for schools, let alone making college more affordable.