The economic situation in Metro Columbus, controlled by Ohio’s “Inside the Beltway” crowd, is a lot rosier than it is in the rest of the Buckeye State.
This post went up at Watchdog.org a short time ago.
It’s easy to compare Columbus and Washington, D.C. Both are capital cities, and both are encircled by interstate beltways, inside of which the influence of government is easily seen.
Like their counterparts in the nation’s capital, those who live and work in and around state government inside the Columbus beltway all too often are at odds with the majority of the rest of the citizens they supposedly represent or serve, both philosophically and economically.
While the nation’s labor force has seen lackluster growth in the past few years, Ohio’s statewide labor force has shrunk. And, while the U.S has added jobs at a rate insufficient to achieve a full economic recovery, it has done so at a rate that exceeds that of the Buckeye State.
But Metro Columbus has avoided most of the pain. Digging into the not-seasonally adjusted data from the federal government’s household survey, one finds both the labor force and employment in Metro Columbus actually have grown in recent years while most of the rest of the state has seen a decline.
Ohio’s labor force has dropped by 209,000 in the past four years. More than three-quarters of that drop occurred in the state’s 16 largest metro areas. Both statewide and in its major metro areas, though, employment has increased during the past two years. But it isn’t back to where it was in March 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession.
However, Metro Columbus, has grown:
Columbus is the only major metro area in the state in which the workforce has grown during the past four years. Its nearly 25,000 jobs added during the past two years is more than double the roughly 11,000 jobs added in the rest of the state.
Why is Metro Columbus doing so much better than the rest of the state?
It would be easy to give credit to forward-minded municipal and suburban government and other city and county leaders. But the City of Columbus passed a growth-retarding income-tax increase in 2009, raising it to nearly the highest level in the state. The city’s schools are embroiled in an attendance fraud audit that is not going its way, unless one believes the state auditor’s seizure of records at 20 high schools is a good sign. Neither episode is characteristic of well-run institutions or evidence of civic vision.
While acknowledging there are several private-sector companies experiencing growth and adding jobs there, it very well may be that Metro Columbus is growing because of government, despite the presence of a Republican in the Governor’s Mansion. And it’s getting larger and more unwieldy.
Many observers have noticed that the elites in Washington don’t seem as concerned as they should be about the nation’s ongoing weak recovery and its chronic long-term joblessness. There seems to be a parallel disconnect going on in Ohio between Columbus and the rest of the Buckeye State. It’s likely the bigger Metro Columbus gets in relation to the rest of Ohio, the worse that situation will become.