COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio led the nation in job growth last month, to the delight of Gov. John Kasich and his fellow Republicans in the Statehouse, but at least one researcher says there is less to the May jobs report than meets the eye.
Led by increases in the service sector, the state added 32,100 jobs in May, though the unemployment rate remained at 7.0 percent, unchanged from April, according to data released Friday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
It was the greatest single-month gain in 10 years and prompted Kasich and Republicans in the General Assembly to take credit.
“Job creators are believing in Ohio again,” Kasich said in a Facebook post.
“Ohio’s state government is finally stepping out of the way of private-sector growth and removing the barriers that for too long hindered our economy. Since the House Republicans gained control of the gavel…170,400 new private-sector jobs were created,” said House Speaker William Batchelder (R-Medina).
Ohio, Nebraska, and South Dakota had the highest rate of job growth among states in May, each state generating 0.6 percent growth, but that does not add up to a robust recovery, according to Hannah Halbert, workforce researcher for the non-partisan think tank Policy Matters Ohio.
“It is unwise to make too much of month-to-month changes. Longer-term trends are a more accurate gauge of the state’s economic health. Ohio’s 12-month increase of 33,200 jobs amounts to a very modest 0.6 percent. May’s gain accounts for nearly all of the increase, as only 1,100 jobs were added in the previous 11 months,” Halbert said
Even those celebrating the jobs report admitted it was only a step in the right direction.
“We can’t rest while we have friends and neighbors still struggling to find work…We need to do all we can to ensure Ohio remains the most desirable place to open a business and the most coveted place in the nation to make a living and raise a family,” Sen. Tim Schaffer (R–Lancaster) said.
Over the past year, Ohio and Alabama recorded the 10th worst job growth rate in the nation, Halbert said.
“While today brought good news to Ohioans, it is imperative that we work together to continue to cultivate an environment for growth and success,” Sen. Jim Hughes (R–Columbus) said on Friday.
The May unemployment rate for Ohio was down from 7.3 percent in May 2012.
The U.S. unemployment rate for May was 7.6 percent, up slightly from 7.5 percent in April.