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Ohio February job numbers: To cheer or not to cheer, that's the question

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According to data released Friday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), nonfarm wage and salary employment for February decreased 4,600 over the month, but the unemployment rate was 6.5 percent, down from 6.9 percent in January.

The numbers, that experts caution are just a monthly snapshot and can be revised up or down later as more clarity leads to adjustment, will be cheered by Gov. John Kasich, whose campaign for a second term will say they show the so-called "Ohio Model" is working.

For Democrats, especially the party's already endorsed candidate Ed FitzGerald, the numbers don't look that rosy. Moreover, one economic think tank that reviewed today's news said jobs have increased by only 1.0 percent over the last year, slightly underperforming the nation. Without accounting for population growth, Hannah Halbert, workforce researcher with Policy Matters Ohio, said the state is not out of the woods yet.

"The annual revision of jobs data released earlier this month showed that we are closer to recovery than the data previously suggested ... but ... our job growth is still far too slow," she said, adding that Ohio has underperformed the nation since the tax overhaul in 2005. Since the end of the recession, over the past 12-months, and since January 2011, Ohio needs to add 138,200 jobs just to make up for the jobs lost in the 2007 recession.

The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in February was 377,000, down 18,000 from 395,000 in January. The number of unemployed has decreased by 44,000 in the past 12 months from 421,000. The February unemployment rate for Ohio was down from 7.3 percent in February 2013.

The U.S. unemployment rate for February was 6.7 percent, up from 6.6 percent in January but down from 7.7 percent in February 2013.

Daniel McElhatton, Communications Director for Ed FitzGerald, Gov. Kasich's ODP-endorsed candidate, repeated a core tenant of the campaign's effort this year.

"The fact remains that John Kasich's agenda works only for the most well off Ohioans. His ideas don't work for the middle class and those families living paycheck to paycheck who are just one bad day away from financial disaster," McElhatton wrote in a statement. "Governor Kasich's schemes give thousands in taxes cuts to those making more than $250,000, while shifting tax increases to working families who can least afford them. We have tried this before and it doesn't work."

February job losses were lead mostly by the loss of 8,100 construction jobs, while the January jobs totals were also revised downward by a 1,000 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job details from ODJFS: Goods-producing industries, at 871,200, lost 4,700 jobs. Losses in construction (-8,100) and mining and logging (-300) were partially offset by gains in manufacturing (+3,700). The private service-providing sector, at 3,655,500, increased 4,100. Job gains in educational and health services (+2,600), trade, transportation, and utilities (+2,400), professional and business services (+1,400), other services (+1,000), and information (+200) exceeded job losses in financial activities (-2,300) and leisure and hospitality (-1,200). Government, at 753,300, decreased 4,000 in local government (-3,400) and federal government (-600). State government employment was unchanged.

From February 2013 to February 2014, nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased 50,000. Goods-producing industries gained 15,300 jobs. Manufacturing added 12,800 jobs in durable goods (+11,400) and non-durable goods (+1,400). Construction increased 1,400, and mining and logging grew 1,100. The private service-providing sector added 40,600 jobs over the year. Employment increased in professional and business services (+22,500), educational and health services (+8,300), leisure and hospitality (+6,300), trade, transportation, and utilities (+6,100), and other services (+2,200). Over-the-year employment declines occurred in financial activities (-2,800) and information (-2,000). Government lost 5,900 jobs throughout state (-2,400), federal (-2,200), and local (-1,300) government.

Halbert at PMO notes the new data for February released today suggest that the state "still struggles with slow job growth."

A separate survey of households, also released today by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, showed an improvement in Ohio's unemployment rate, falling 0.4 percent to 6.5 percent. This marks the first month since June 2013 that the Ohio rate has dipped below the national average.

"It is not uncommon for the two surveys to send mixed signals," said Halbert. "They use different methods and measures. The unemployment rate is moving in the right direction, but the state is nowhere near a full recovery."

The news article Ohio February job numbers: To cheer or not to cheer, that's the question appeared first on Columbus Government Examiner.

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