Dayton region ends year on hot streak for job growth

Crews work on a sewer in the South Park neighborhood. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Crews work on a sewer in the South Park neighborhood. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

After a rocky start to the year, the Dayton region finished 2019 with four consecutive months of year-over-year job growth, which until then seemed to be stuck in neutral.

In December, employers in the Dayton metro area added 3,400 jobs compared to December 2018, which continued a streak of the best job gains since early last year, according to non-seasonally adjusted, year-over-year data.

All economic indicators are pointing in the right direction, said Chris Kershner, executive vice president of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The Dayton area’s unemployment rate is 3.8%, regional sales tax collections are up 13.4% (year to date) and total home sales in the area are up 8%,” Kershner said. “These are signs of strong economic confidence.”

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The Dayton metro area saw 60 consecutive months of year-over-year payroll growth between October 2013 and September 2018.

But then the economy hit a rough patch. Local employers shed jobs in November and December of 2018 and January of 2019.

Hiring increased by 0.4% in February of last year, but then declined by 0.2% in March and 0.1 % in April, according to the not seasonally adjusted data.

The Dayton metro area — which includes Greene, Miami and Montgomery counties — added 1,00 jobs in May (+0.3%), saw no gains in June, lost 1,500 jobs in July (-0.4%) and then lost 100 more in August.

But then payrolls increased 0.6% in September (+2,200 jobs), 1.2% in October (+4,800 jobs) and 0.7% in November (+2,900 jobs), year over year.

Nonfarm employment in the region stood at 396,000 in December, which was up 0.9% from December 2018, preliminary federal labor data released this week show.

Until late last year, Dayton metro area employment hadn’t reached or surpassed 396,000 since 2007.

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Unemployment in the area was 3.8% in November, which was lower than the statewide rate of 4.2%.

The Dayton region’s unemployment rate has been equal or better than the state, private industry is investing in downtown and the region and the economic growth has been diverse, said Kershner.

The region’s economy was once heavily reliant on the automotive manufacturing industry, Kershner said, and while there are still many auto suppliers in the area, the local industry mix is much more varied, which is a key to long-term economic stability.

Last month, the strongest growth was in education and health services.

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Employment in this area increased 5.3% to 78,900 jobs (+4,000 jobs). Health care and social assistance employment specifically rose 6.7% to 67,200 jobs.

As this newspaper recently reported, the top in-demand job in the southwest region of Ohio is registered nurse, which has 1,303 openings on Ohio's Top Jobs tool.

The top 10 available jobs on the online tool also include medical assistants, medical secretaries and nursing assistants.

Manufacturing payrolls increased by 700 jobs (+1.6%) to 44,300 jobs.

Trade, transportation and utilities increased by 200 jobs to 68,400 (+0.2%). Construction, mining and logging grew 300 jobs (2.3%) to 13,600 workers.

Leisure and hospitality added 600 jobs (+1.6%), and financial activities added 100 (0.6%).

Professional and business services employers lost 1,900 workers (-3.6%) and government employment shrank by 200 jobs to 62,200 workers (-0.3%).

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