Ohio lost 2,800 jobs in October, unemployment increases

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The unemployment rate in Ohio inched up to 4.9 percent in October as employers statewide shed 2,800 jobs.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Strong gains in manufacturing and construction were not enough to offset losses in most other industries in Ohio last month as employers statewide shed 2,800 jobs, and the unemployment rate inched up to 4.9 percent, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported Friday.

October was the third consecutive month of job losses for the state, bringing the annual rate of job growth to just under 1 percent — or about half the national growth rate, according to an analysis of the jobs numbers by Policy Matters Ohio, a left-leaning think tank in Columbus.

“Ohio continues to backtrack on job growth,” said Hannah Halbert, a Policy Matters researcher. “The losses have been small, but it is a worrying trend, and one we have not seen since late 2009.”

>>> RELATED: Ohio lost 3,100 jobs in September

Still, the latest jobs report wasn’t all bad news.

Employment in manufacturing and construction — reflecting high-wage blue collar jobs that are still the backbone of the Buckeye State — accelerated at a robust pace, with manufacturing gaining 3,500 new positions and construction adding 2,500 new jobs.

“We are continuing to see demand in both manufacturing, entry level and experienced, as well as logistics, including forklift operators, pick and pack and kit assembly,” said Tom Maher, owner of staffing firm Manpower of Dayton Inc.

However, statewide job losses last month were overwhelming. Even the normally healthy health care and social assistance sector posted a small loss of 300 jobs during October, on top of 5,000 job losses in professional and business services, and a decline of 3,200 jobs in state and local government.

While Ohio’s unemployment rate remained low — ticking up just 0.1 percent from September to the same level as the national rate — much of the decline in unemployment in the state can be attributed to workers continuing to drop out of the labor force and no longer being counted as unemployed.

>>> RELATED: Many Ohioans still struggling despite low unemployment

The state’s labor force dropped again in October by 19,000 — the fifth consecutive month of labor force declines this year. Since the official start of the Great Recession in December 2007, Ohio’s labor force has shrunk by a staggering 245,000 workers, according to Policy Matters.

Not counting the number of workers leaving the labor force, the number of unemployed in Ohio rose by 5,000 last month to 280,000, and is up 15,000 over the past year, according to the jobs report.

Nationally, payrolls increased in 11 states in October, fell in five and were essentially unchanged in 34 states and the District of Columbia, according to a separate report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

But while the national unemployment rate and the rate in Ohio are the same, they got there on opposite tracks.

The national economy added 161,000 jobs last month as the unemployment rate dipped from 5 percent in September. And perhaps the best news was that annual wage growth surged to the levels not seen since the financial crisis.

The BLS reported that average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls rose by 10 cents to $25.92 in October. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen 2.8 percent.

Economists pointed to the last jobs report before the U.S. presidential election as reason to believe the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates in December.