Ohio job growth among worst in U.S. for past year; Dayton hiring slows to crawl

In 12 months, Ohio employment increased just 1.5%, ahead of only Mississippi, Kansas and New Hampshire.

After adding more than 5,000 new jobs in the first five months of this year, the Dayton region has seen hiring grind to a near halt, and Ohio’s job market isn’t doing much better.

Ohio gained jobs in August for the 10th consecutive month, but the Buckeye State in the last year has seen slower employment growth than all but three other U.S. states, according to this newspaper’s analysis of federal labor data.

Anemic job growth bodes poorly for the state’s and the Dayton region’s chances of sometime soon recovering all of the jobs lost early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Ohio economy in its biggest sectors have all been underperforming the country,” said Zach Schiller, research director with liberal-leaning Policy Matters Ohio. “I think we should be worried because we’ve had, long-term, slower growth.”

Last month, employers in the Dayton metro area hired 300 new workers, increasing local employment by 0.1%, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The metro area gained 200 jobs in July (+0.1%) after losing 100 jobs in June (-0.1%), the data show.

Local employers were hiring at a much brisker pace earlier in the year. The region added 1,700 jobs in January, 900 in February, 1,300 in April and 1,700 in May. Employment saw a slight decline in March.

The Dayton metro area consists of Montgomery, Miami and Greene counties.

In the last year, the Dayton region has added about 8,400 new jobs, increasing local payrolls by 2.2%.

Only the Toledo and Cleveland metro areas experienced stronger growth in the last 12 months (4.5% and 2.6%, respectively).

During that time frame, Columbus saw employment increase 1.8%, while Canton and Lima saw 0.8% growth and Mansfield’s employment increased 0.6%.

Payrolls in the Springfield and Akron metro areas expanded 0.4%. Cincinnati actually saw a small decline (-200 jobs).

Ohio saw weak job growth last month (+0.1%). But that was still better than about 15 other states for August.

However, over the last year, the Buckeye State has had some of the slowest job growth in the nation.

Between August 2021 and August 2022, employment in the state increased just 1.5%, which was worse than all but Mississippi (+1%); Kansas (+1.1%); and New Hampshire (+1.2%), according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

States with top performing job markets included Texas (+5.7% growth), Nevada (+5%), New Jersey (+4.9%), Georgia (+4.9%) and Florida (+4.9%).

Ohio’s neighbors also fared better. Pennsylvania saw 3.5% growth; Michigan, 3.2%; Kentucky, 3.1%; West Virginia, 2.9%; and Indiana, 2.6%.

Ohio’s job market is not growing as fast as it was in the spring, said Rea Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at conservative-leaning The Buckeye Institute.

Ohio’s unemployment rate also increased while its labor force participation rate decreased, he said, which means there were fewer people in the job market and those who were looking for work had a harder time finding it.

But Hederman said new job opportunities are headed this way since Intel is breaking ground on a new project in Licking County, east of Columbus.

The $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing operation will have a pair of factories that are expected to employ 3,000 people when they open in 2025.

Honda Motor Co. also appears to be considering building a new battery factory for electric vehicles in Ohio.

These planned investments are encouraging and hopefully will succeed, but it’s unclear if they will live up to expectations, said Schiller, with Policy Matters Ohio.

Ohio’s job market has underperformed the U.S. job market for a long time, and it’s no big surprise that continues to happen, Schiller said.

Ohio’s industrial mix and state-level policies likely are contributing to the sluggish employment growth, he said.

“Cutting taxes and cutting regulations in Ohio has not succeeded,” he said.

About the Author