Researcher: Economic report not as rosy as it seems

Published 2:04 pm Tuesday, October 20, 2020

By The Center Square

COLUMBUS — Ohio’s unemployment rate fell from August to September, and the state added nearly 40,000 new private sector jobs. But in reality, according to an independent think tank, the picture isn’t as rosy as the numbers.

Rea S. Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute, said Ohio’s recovery has slowed dramatically and urged policymakers at the state and national level to take steps to help businesses.

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“Despite these new jobs, the September report is further indication that the recovery is starting to stall,” Hederman said. “In the last month, weekly unemployment claims have increased and job creation has slowed. To reverse course, policymakers at both the state and national level should act by offering interest free loans to businesses, targeted aid to state and local governments and above all avoid raising taxes.”

Ohio’s jobless rate fell from 8.9 percent in August to 8.4 percent in September, but Hederman said the cause for the drop was 121,000 Ohioans leaving the labor force, rather than finding jobs. Also, he pointed out the state’s labor force participation rate fell from 62.2 percent to 60.9 percent, which is now below the national rate of 61.4 percent.

He also cautioned it’s just one month of numbers and a broader look is needed.

“While this month’s report raises concerns about Ohio’s recovery, one month’s numbers can be volatile and subject to large changes and revisions – as we saw in the July report when the labor force participation rate fell dramatically only to recover the following month,” Hederman said. “What Ohioans need to watch for is trends over a number of months.”

On the positive side, Hederman said the payroll survey showed Ohio added 38,400 private sector jobs in September, with 34,900 coming in the service industry. More than a quarter of those jobs came in the food service industry, which continues to struggle.

The restaurant industry is still down more than 100,000 jobs compared to last year, and the state has lost 352,500 jobs over the past year.