Ohio’s unemployment rate last month fell to its lowest level since 2001, trimming 0.2 percentage points from June to an even 5 percent, according to figures released Friday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
At the same time, employers statewide added 14,900 nonfarm jobs, and the number of unemployed Ohioans fell by 10,000 from June to 286,000, the state reported.
The drop in Ohio’s unemployment rate continues to outpace that of the nation, which was 5.3 percent in July, unchanged from the previous month, according to an earlier report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But the drop in Ohio’s unemployment rate reflects mainly a decline in the size of the labor force, or the number of people working or actively seeking jobs, which fell by 16,000 last month.
Statewide, employment in the public sector more than offset losses in the private sector, which shed 10,400 jobs, with nearly half of job losses — 5,000 — coming from goods-producing industries, according to the state jobs report.
Meanwhile, state and local government employment surged by 25,300.
“While these figures will likely be heavily revised, the report shows that public sector jobs matter to Ohio’s economic health and should not be disregarded in terms of job growth,” said Hannah Halbert, a researcher with Policy Matters Ohio. “Aside from providing vital public services, these jobs matter to our economy and positively impact the private sector.”
Even with the gain in July, the state still needs 20,500 jobs just to recapture the total number of jobs we had when the recession officially started in December 2007, according to Halbert.
“Ohio continues to under perform the nation in terms of job growth,” said Halbert, noting that job growth is up about 2 percent nationally over the past year, while growth in Ohio has been half that rate. “We have fewer jobs today than we did when the recession officially started and fewer than we did a decade ago.”