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Ohio jobless rate under Kasich questioned as 2014 election season nears start

For the 416,000 Ohioans who still remain jobless after three years of promises by the administration of Gov. John R. Kasich to out perform the national average, a drop in the unemployment rate to 7.2 percent in December 2013 from 7.4 percent the previous month offers little comfort.

Gov. Kasich promised to create jobs in 2010, but statistics over his three years in office so far add up to Ohio being among the bottom dwellers in job recovery.
Gov. Kasich promised to create jobs in 2010, but statistics over his three years in office so far add up to Ohio being among the bottom dwellers in job recovery.John Michael Spinelli

Data released last Friday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) showed that while employment increased 5,000 over the month, the number of workers unemployed in Ohio remains above 400,000, a figure candidate Kasich in 2010 used to skewer the incumbent governor at the time, Ted Strickland, a Democrat, who took office in 2007 as the Great Recession was about to hit the Buckeye State hard.

With Gov. Kasich ready to file papers on Feb. 5 declaring himself a candidate for rehire this year, the news from ODJFS that the number of unemployed has increased by 31,000 in the past 12 months from 385,000 isn't sitting well with some, who are starting to doubt the confidence of a governor who barely won in 2010 but who continues to stand his ground on a private and secret job development group that has replaced Ohio's 40-year old public Department of Development.

Even though his newspaper endorsed John Kasich in 2010 over then Gov. Ted Strickland, in a match-up contrasting Kasich as a razzle-dazzle reformer to Strickland's boring but steady stewardship, Brent Larkin, former editorial director from 1991 until his retirement in 2009 for The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest circulation newspaper, called Ohio's monthly job-creation ranking among the 50 states abominable.

Compiled by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, the figures—January - 43, February - 41, March- 48, April - 47, May - 43, June - 46, July - 45, August - 44, September - 42, October - 45, November - 46—show Ohio remains among the laggard states in job creation. In November 2013, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 43 states and decreased in 7 states and the District of Columbia. The largest over-the-month decrease in employment occurred in Ohio (-12,000.

Those abominable jobs numbers, Larkin wrote, "...all but guarantee the final tally will show precious few states in the nation had a worse 2013 on the jobs front than this one."

Gov. Kasich enjoys repeating that under his leadership, Ohio is recognized for being a more business friendly state, and that based on that criteria, it's a leader among states. He also points to more than 150-thousand jobs created on his watch, although observes like Larkin and others say many of the jobs that hatched after the Republican governor took over in 2001 were already in the pipe line, thanks to job recovery efforts from the Strickland Administration.

Meanwhile, while Ohio's unemployment rate has dipped to 7.2 percent, the U.S. unemployment rate for December was 6.7 percent, down from 7.0 percent in November and from 7.9 percent in December 2012. Ohio is now trending up as the national rate trends down.

"I came in and built a team of really great people, including members of the Assembly that would put Ohio to work and reclaim our rightful place in the United States of America as one of the great states. Ladies and gentlemen, tonight I can tell you with great confidence - we are succeeding here in Ohio in turning our state around, and it is fantastic," Gov. Kasich said at his last State of the State address in Lima last year.

According to one news source, when a variety of measurements are taken, Gov. Kasich leads the 34th best state in the country, Politico's Margaret Slattery determined in "The States of our Union ... Are not all Strong."

But another economic think tank in Cleveland says Ohio still trails its 2013 job growth peak set in May by more than 13,000 jobs. Observing that the nation’s 12-month growth rate, a modest 1.6 percent, is more than triple the Ohio rate of 0.5 percent, Hannah Halbert, a workforce researcher for Policy Matters Ohio said the addition of a total of 25,600 jobs over the yeare is not a healthy growth rate.

"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," she said, adding, "We are on a job growth seesaw, producing weak growth. It’s not the upward trajectory that Ohio workers so desperately need."

In previous recessions during the 1980s and 1990s, Ohio often gained close to 100,000 jobs a year. Estimates are that private sector jobs this year will return to pre-recession levels. But public sector job losses remain a problem. Annual losses of public jobs (-9,500) offset some of the growth in goods-producing (5,200) and service-providing (29,900) sectors, PMO noted, adding that local public jobs (-7,800) lost more than any other job type.

Gov. Kasich will deliver his 4th State of the State address on Feb. 24th in Medina, home to retiring House Speaker William Batchelder. His Democratic challenger, Ed FitzGerald, a former FBI agent and mayor who was elected as the first executive in a reconfigured county governance plan, has made JobsOhio, Gov. Kasich signature job creation group, a talking point in his reasons why Kasich has failed to produce the jobs he said he would.

"Despite Governor Kasich’s claims that the economy is improving, our unemployment rate is a half point worse than it was a year ago, and 31,000 fewer Ohioans are working," a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party blasted out last week after ODJFS released its unemployment figures.

"As the rest of the nation recovers, under the Governor’s policies Ohio is headed in the wrong direction with our unemployment higher than the nation's for the first time in three years," ODP's Jerid Kurtz said. "John Kasich likes to pat himself on the back with talk about a so-called Ohio miracle, but the only miracle is how much he fails to grasp the struggles middle-class families face from his stalled economy."

In November, a report aired in the Washington Post said Ohio and two other states, Arkansas and Oklahoma, saw nearly two-year unemployment highs.

The news article Ohio jobless rate under Kasich questioned as 2014velection season nears start appeared first on Columbus Government Examiner.

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