February Regional and State Jobs Report: Ohio Unemployment Rate Drops to 6.5% But State Loses 4,600 Jobs
The government’s Regional and State Employment and Unemployment report for February came out this morning.
The good news for Ohio is that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent from 6.9 percent in January.
The bad news (but not quite as bad as it appears) is that the state lost 4,600 seasonally adjusted payroll jobs.
As I’ve often noted, February is a very important month in the job market. That’s because it’s the first of five months where employers actually (i.e., in raw numbers, before seasonal adjustments) add lots of jobs.
So if Ohio lost seasonally adjusted jobs in February, it would ordinarily mean that employers held back on their normal level of net February. Well, thanks to seasonal adjustment quirks (which, as is so often the case, demonstrates why one must look deeper), that’s only partially true:
Overall hiring wasn’t what you’d like to see, but the seasonally adjusted calc of -4,600 made things look far worse than justified. By contrast, the private sector number was basically as bad in comparison to the three post-jobs recession years of 2011, 2012, and 2013, but somehow converted to a job loss of only 600.
Bright-siders might point out that the Buckeye State’s job losses in January were very low. True, but continued slow net hiring during the next four months could very well offset that theoretically favorable result. We’ll just have to see.
Also, at the risk of nagging, I must remind readers that Ohio’s Household Survey employment growth since January 2011 has only been 109,000:
That leaves the Buckeye State 248,000 jobs short of its peak Household Survey employment level in January 2007.
And one more nag: Though I had to do the comparison on not seasonally adjusted data for Jan. 2011 through Jan. 2014 (February metro data isn’t yet available), almost 45 percent of the Household Survey jobs added during that period (50,500 out of 112,800) were in Metro Columbus. That represents a 5.8 percent employment increase, four times the 1.45 percent increase in the rest of the state.
While Ohio outside of Columbus continues to stagnate, Columbus thrives.
Columbus just so happens to be the seat of Ohio’s government. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. (/sarcasm)