Ohio is the only swing state where unemployment did not rise in July
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
July unemployment in Ohio remained unchanged from June at 7.2 percent while the state added 11,000 jobs last month, the fourth-highest total in the country, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported Friday.
In the past year, Ohio employers have added 100,300 non-farm jobs, ranking the Buckeye State behind California, Texas and New York for job growth over the same period, a separate report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed. Ohio’s jobless rate has fallen to its lowest level in four years, and it is down from 8.9 percent a year ago.
The sharp decline in unemployment in Ohio and other swing states has led some analysts to suggest the trend could boost President Barack Obama’s bid for re-election against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
But any advantage for the president might be eroding with a general uptick in unemployment across the nation last month. Ohio was the only one of the 12 swing states considered up for grabs in the election that did not see a rate increase in July. And the national rate inched up to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent in June, BLS figures showed.
Still, marginal moves in unemployment aren’t likely to sway voters in either party this close to the general election in November, said Melvin Cohen, a political science professor at Miami University.
“The unemployment rate has already been factored into the election,” Cohen said. “It would take dramatic change in unemployment to turn the election one way or the other.”
That has not stopped political adversaries from trying. Obama supporters tout Ohio’s relatively low unemployment as proof the president’s policies are working, while Romney supporters claim credit in spite of Obama’s actions.
“In truth, the credit should go to the business cycle,” said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics in Cleveland, who noted that much of the job growth in the Ohio has been the result of the resurgent auto and energy industries.
Last month, Ohio’s job growth was led by a gain of 11,700 jobs in educational and health services. But that growth was offset by cuts in state and local governments, which shed 5,300 jobs last month, the state jobs department reported.