Better than average improvement.
Note: This item went up at Watchdog.org earlier today.
By Tom Blumer | Special to Ohio Watchdog
As the nation’s unemployment rate rose from 8.1% to 8.2% in May, Ohio’s rate fell from 7.4% to 7.3%, Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. Ohio was one of 14 states where the unemployment rate fell. 18 others saw their rate rise, while it stayed the same in 18 others.
Ohio’s unemployment rate was 0.9% below the national average in May. It has only been that far below the national rate four times since 1976, the earliest year state data is available at the BLS’s web site. Those months were way back in 1995, when Ohio’s rate differential was greater (January and April, at 1.0% and 1.1%, respectively), and in 1977 (June and November), when the differentials were the same.
In December 2010, the month before Republican Governor John Kasich took office, Ohio’s unemployment rate was 9.2%. It’s 1.9 points lower now, or 21% using straight division, an accomplishment exceeded by very few states. The nation’s unemployment rate has dropped during that time by 1.2 points (13%), and may be headed for a few months of sustained increases.
Ohio’s improvement is part of a pattern of falling rates during that same time period in other “newly-red” states which, like Ohio, went from having a Democrat to a Republican governing the state after the 2010 election (or, in the case of Florida, a Republican replacing someone who might as well have been a Democrat):
- Oklahoma — 1.6 points (from 6.4% to 4.8%, a 25% drop)
- Michigan — 2.7 points (from 11.2% to 8.5%, a 24% drop)
- Florida — 2.5 points (from 11.1% to 8.6%, a 23% drop)
- Iowa — 1.1 points (from 6.2% to 5.1%, an 18% drop)
- Tennessee — 1.7 points (from 9.6% to 7.9%, an 18% drop)
- New Mexico — 1.1 points (from 7.8% to 6.7%, a 14% drop)
- Wisconsin — 1 point (from 7.8% to 6.8%), a 13% drop)
- Kansas — 0.9 points (from 7.0% to 6.1%, a 13% drop)
There are exceptions. In Pennsylvania, where a Republican governor took over from Democrat Ed Rendell in 2011, the rate has only fallen from 8.0% to 7.4%. In New Jersey, where Chris Christie succeeded a Democratic governor in early 2010, the rate has barely fallen, and is still above 9%.
And while there are several states with Democratic Party governors, notably Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Vermont, and West Virginia, which have seen their unemployment rates go down by 1.5 or more points to values at or below the national average during that same December 2010 through May 2012 time period, it’s the Democratic Party-governed laggards which stick out the most:
- California’s rate has fallen 1.4 points, but is still a ridiculously high 10.8%.
- The unemployment rate in President Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois has dropped by less than a point, and stands at 8.6%, higher than any of its midwestern neighbors and even higher than Michigan, where the rate was 14% or higher from July through November, 2009. Illinois steeply raised taxes last year; residents looking for work are paying the price.
- Though New York has added a fair number of jobs, its unemployment rate has actually gone up from 8.3% to 8.6%.
- Though it has finally dropped to a still unacceptable 9.2%, the unemployment rate in North Carolina was over 10% just four months ago.
- Rhode Island, where Governor Lincoln Chafee is an independent but governs like a Democrat, the rate has dropped by only a half-point and is stuck at 11.0%, the highest in the nation.
Ohio under Kasich and the other “newly-red” states above have balanced their budgets and erased large projected budget deficits without tax increases. If it weren’t for those “newly-reds,” what little we’ve seen of a nationwide recovery in the past almost year and a half might not even exist.