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Positive sign in slight uptick to Ohio employment numbers

December 24, 2012
Morning Journal News

SALEM - Economic research analyst George Zeller said that while the Ohio unemployment rate estimate fell slightly from 6.9 percent in October to 6.8 percent in November, it was still encouraging.

Ohio job growth rate for November was 1.84 percent, while nationally it was 1.42 percent.

"Thus, Ohio has fortunately started a new streak of one consecutive month when Ohio's job growth rate exceeds the national average," he said

This was the best news in the new and generally slow growth employment estimates for Ohio, he said. But he cautioned Ohio's growth rate remains very slow as it picked up just 1,600 jobs in November.

Zeller, a 1967 Salem High School graduate, said the new data was preliminary and while carrying "mixed components," overall it was positive.

He pointed to "major quirks and technical factors" that skewed data from prior months that were "largely" absent in the new numbers.

While Ohio gained 1,600 jobs overall, it lost 1,400 federal government and 1,500 local government jobs in November.

Continuing cuts in government employment in Ohio are still slowing Ohio's current employment growth rate at a time when there is an urgent need to speed up that growth rate, Zeller explained.

But overall, he said, "The data reports an encouraging but still slow Ohio employment growth of 1,600 jobs in November."

He also noted that the previous October estimate was revised upward by 4,000 jobs as the November figures were released.

Despite its very small size, Zeller noted the figures included an increase in manufacturing jobs showing a slight turnaround from September and October.

Manufacturing sector jobs have been driving Ohio's slow labor market recovery, he said, noting that the increase helped boost the state's annual estimated employment gain for 2012 to 103,200 jobs. "That is of course a highly encouraging figure," he said, "(but) unfortunately, the Ohio preliminary job estimates, including the new October 2012 estimate, are certain to be subject to very substantial downward revisions in January 2013."

That will occur when the annual benchmark revision of the monthly survey data to the complete count of jobs in the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages report is completed, he said.

The current seasonally adjusted job estimates for Ohio will be in error until the quarterly revision process is fully implemented by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Zeller explained, adding that every monthly preliminary estimate is an overestimate of employment in excess of 100,000 jobs, including the new estimate released today for November.

"As a result, a large downward revision to Ohio employment in 2011 and 2012 exceeding 100,000 jobs will be made during the annual benchmark revision in January 2013.

"Most of those overestimates of Ohio employment were concentrated in 2009 and 2010. Thus, the impact of the 2007-2009 deep and lengthy national recession is still underestimated in Ohio."

Over the last 12 years (since October 2000), Ohio's job losses are still at 438,300 jobs, or minus 7.7 percent of Ohio's employment picture in 2000.

"The November growth is very welcome, but the state clearly has a long way to go before it can recover the huge previous employment losses that Ohio suffered during the last 12 years, Zeller said.

"The need to speed up the rate of recovery in Ohio is still there, despite the encouraging November estimates that are a step in the right direction."

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