April 5, 2014

John Kasich’s Calamity

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:59 am

And Ohio’s Governor wants to be President.


This column went up at PJ Media Wednesday evening and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Thursday.


In 2010, Ohioans longing for genuine reform after decade upon decade of virtually uninterrupted tax-and-spend government finally thought they had found their change agent in former congressman John Kasich.

The state hadn’t seen anything resembling conservative governance since the first year or so of Republican George Voinovich’s gubernatorial reign during the early 1990s. But just 15 months after what had been an impressive start, Voinovich began pushing for tax increases on booze and cigarettes. By the end of his second year, he and pliant Republican legislators were plotting soak-the-rich schemes. In 1996, Voinovich was the only Republican governor in America to receive a fiscal policy “F” from the Cato Institute. By that time, Republicans in the General Assembly were complaining that they needed equal time to respond to Voinovich’s annual left-leaning State of the State addresses.

Under Bob Taft, things got even worse. After treading water during his first term, Taft in 2003 seriously sullied his ancestors’ Republican and conservative legacies by ramming massive tax increases through the General Assembly. An alleged tax reform effort in 2005 barely nibbled around the edges while adding a horrid gross receipts levy to the mix. When a scandal-plagued Taft left office, Ohio’s business tax climate was fourth-worst in the nation.

Before the Voinovich era, Democrat Dick Celeste raised the income tax by 90 percent. After the Taft era, Democrat Ted Strickland allowed the spending spree which his predecessor had enabled to continue unchecked, even as the state’s economy went into free-fall. Over 400,000 jobs, a shocking 8 percent of statewide employment, disappeared.

The time could not have been more ripe for a genuine conservative to come in and not only right the ship, but also return Ohio’s economy, after over 30 years of watching other states pass it by, to a prosperous trajectory.

Kasich certainly looked like the guy who could and would do it. During the 2010 Buckeye State governor’s race, he repeatedly told audiences that “I was in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party,” and with good reason. While in Congress, he “was the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Budget Committee in 1997 that balanced the nation’s budget for the first time in more than 30 years.” He selected State Auditor Mary Taylor as his running mate largely because, while a state representative, she had defied the establishment by voting against Taft’s tax increases.

Despite passive-aggressive obstruction by the state’s Republican Party chairman and a desperate, media-assisted smear campaign by Strickland, Kasich become the first challenger to defeat a sitting Buckeye State governor in 36 years.

To his credit, Kasich did right the fiscal ship. His first two-year budget closed the projected $8 billion budget gap Stickland had left behind without increasing taxes. He enthusiastically signed a repeal of the state’s death tax. He made some progress cutting an overgrown bureaucracy. The state’s economy responded by generating over 90,000 jobs and growing by 2.9 percent during his first 12 full months in office. Both figures significantly outpaced the averages in the rest of the U.S.

Unfortunately, Kasich and state Republicans suffered a serious political setback in November 2011, when voters decisively torpedoed their attempt to enact collective bargaining reforms analogous to those successfully implemented by Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Since then, the Governor has been a different person, and his policies have veered into places even George Voinovich and Bob Taft wouldn’t go.

His reaction to the fracking boom has been to propose a 400 percent increase in the severance tax while ramping up the rhetoric against “big oil.”

After opposing Obamacre, Kasich turned around and championed Medicaid expansion. He spent months trying to shame opponents into supporting him by playing the “Christian” card, i.e., “You’re not really a Christian if you won’t support this.” When legislators still balked, he went around them and took his case to the Controlling Board, an obscure state agency which normally deals with completely unrelated matters. When it looked like the sitting members of the Controlling Board wouldn’t do his bidding, the Governor had the House Speaker arbitrarily replace two members who planned to oppose the move with supportive lackeys. The Wall Street Journal correctly described Kasich’s heavy-handed move as “lawless.” Washington isn’t the only place where tyranny, i.e., “arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority,” has gained a foothold.

As with Voinovich and Taft, Kasich’s budget unsustainably expands spending by an anticipated average of over 5 percent per year through fiscal 2015. Half of that would still be way too much.

Ohio’s economy has responded as one would expect: poorly. Despite the strong head start, statewide payroll employment growth during the 37 months which ended in February now trails the rest of the nation — and over half of that growth has been in Metro Columbus, where payrolls have grown at triple the rate seen in the stagnating rest of the state. In the three years ended in January, the statewide labor force outside of Columbus shrunk by 64,000.

Luckily for Kasich, the Democrat opposing his reelection is best referred to as the Wreck That Is Edward Fitzgerald. Thus, he will probably win reelection even after dissing the people who gave him his victory margin the first time around.

In late March, while touting Ohio’s fictional “economic turnaround,” Kasich refused to answer Chris Wallace’s repeated questions on Fox News Sunday about whether he was considering a presidential run in 2016. I take that evasiveness to mean that he’s serious about it. One year of strong governance followed by several lousy ones doesn’t get it, John.

April 3, 2014

Latest PJ Media Column (‘John Kasich’s Calamity’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:21 am

It went up here late Wednesday Pacific Time.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog Saturday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.


Left on the cutting room floor: John Kasich is trying to appease the growing anti-Common Core wave (links added by me) —

In Ohio, a public hearing on a state bill to repeal Common Core lasted six hours, until 1 a.m., because angry tea partiers were lining up to give House Education Committee Chairman Gerald Stebelton a piece of their minds. The Republican was dubbed “Stompyfeet Stebelton” by the tea-party-affiliated group Education Freedom Ohio for his lack of enthusiasm for repealing Common Core.

Stebelton is term-limited after this year, so tea-party groups are focusing on John Kasich, Ohio’s GOP governor, who is up for reelection and has backtracked on his initial support for Common Core. They are pushing him to say he supports legislation to repeal it.

Complicating matters, Kasich appears to be good friends with Common Core champion Jeb Bush, and would probably be burning a bridge if he came out for repeal. The guess here is that he and his peeps have figured out that it’s a disaster, and are biding their time to see how consequential the Common Core opposition is before doing anything.

My response: Stand for something, John.

January 6, 2014

I Wasn’t Even Looking For This (on Job Declines in Metro Cleveland) …

Filed under: Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:03 am

… but it found me, when I was looking to see when the next Metro Area Employment and Unemployment Report covering November comes out (that will be tomorrow).

It was in the “Retrospective Summary of September 2013 Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment” at the end of October’s report (link will be overridden by November’s report tomorrow), done because the Bureau of Labor Statistics skipped issuing a September report because of the 17% government shutdown (figures are seasonally adjusted):

The largest over-the-year decrease in employment (from Sept. 2012 to Sept. 2013) occurred in Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio (-7,200), followed by Poughkeepsie, Newburgh-Middletown, N.Y. (-3,300), and Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. (-3,200). The largest over-the-year percentage decreases in employment occurred in Decatur, Ill. (-4.7 percent), Manhattan, Kan. (-3.1 percent), and Ocean City, N.J. (-3.0 percent).

To be fair to our northeastern Buckeye State buds, I looked up the stats as presented and revised for October and November (which seems to have been posted prematurely):


The “good” news is that September’s year-over-year shortfall is now “only” 5,400.

The bad news is that the October and November year-over-year job declines increased to amounts even greater than what was originally reported for September, i.e., to 7,500 and 7,800, respectively.

The really bad news is that Metro Cleveland is still almost 66,000 jobs shy of its pre-recession peak of 1.079 million in April 2006, and has recovered less than 30% of the 92,500 jobs lost from that month to March 2010 (26,800 jobs gained since March 2010 divided by 92,500 is 29%).

I’ll leave it to readers to mutter their own Team Kasich economic malaise comments.


UPDATE: The seasonally adjusted 12-month decline per the Household Survey is just over 9,000 as of November. It was almost 12,000 back in April, narrowed from that point until September, and is headed the wrong way again.

The November 2013 v. 2012 not seasonally adjusted difference — more accurate because it’s supposed to reflect what’s actually there — was over 12,500.

UPDATE 2, Jan. 7: The Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed to the not seasonally adjusted Establishment Survey in reporting that November’s year-over-year Metro Cleveland employment drop was 8,100.

January 2, 2014

The Challenge For Ohio’s Establishment Challengers in the Governor’s Race

Filed under: Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:42 am

On the Democratic side, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune is challenging the party’s clear favorite, Ed Fitzgerald.

The reaction on the left is predictable. Basically, it’s “who the h*ll are you?”; “how dare you?”; and (ROTFLMAO) “you’re conservative!!

Today, Clermont County resident and former Ohio Liberty Coalition President Ted Stevenot is making his challenge to incumbent Republican Governor John Kasich official.

I haven’t seen any direct establishment reax to Stevenot’s annuncement, but I really don’t have to. It will basically be the same as that seen on the left, though perhaps in a more moderate tone and accompanied by the claim that “You’re TOO conservative!!”

Both establishments’ candidates, based on their records, represent another four years of drift the Buckeye State can ill afford.

The challenge for Portune and Stevenot is to convince their respective establishments that they are more than “protest” candidates — i.e., that they have a legitimate shot at getting hordes of their supporters to the polls who will ignore the poll watchers and the threats to anyone who dares to be a donor and give their candidate a legitimate shot at winning.

I’m not saying it can’t be done, and I certainly don’t wish to discourage the efforts. But I must observe that I have yet to see anyone pull off a successful challenge such as this in Ohio at the gubernatorial level in my lifetime.

That said, have at it, guys.

December 20, 2013

November: Another Weak Month in Ohio’s Job Market

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:19 am

The key stats from today’s regional and state report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Ohio’s November seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 7.4% from 7.5% in October, moving from 0.2 points above October’s national average of 7.3% to 0.4 points above November’s 7.0%. 12 months ago, Ohio’s unemployment rate was 6.8%. Only Louisiana has seen its unemployment rate go up by an much as Ohio in the past 12 months — and the Bayou State’s current rate is a much more tolerable 6.3%.
  • Seasonally adjusted payroll employment per the Establishment Survey fell by 12,000, and is up by only 19,800 in the past 12 months.
  • Seasonally adjusted employment per the Household Survey increased by only 7,000 in November, and is roughly 31,400 lower than it was in November 2012 (not seasonally adjusted, it’s just under 17,000 lower).

Several states have notably outperformed Ohio in the past year or so:

  • Florida’s unemployment rate was much higher than Ohio’s for quite some time. 12 months ago, the Sunshine State was at 8.0%. Now, at 6.4%, it’s a full point lower than Ohio.
  • Indiana’s unemployment rate, which was also much higher than Ohio’s during most of the past several years, is now a tick lower, at 7.3%. (Right to work, anyone?)
  • North Carolina, which was a complete basket case under a Democratic governor before this year (Nov. 2012 uenmployment rate: 9.4%), now has the same unemployment rate as the Buckeye State.
  • Even Nikki Haley’s South Carolina, which struggled mightily during the first 2-3 post-recession years, has gone from 8.6% to 7.1% in the past year.
  • On top of that, Chris Christie’s New Jersey (from 9.6% to 7.8% in the past 12 months) is closing in.

If there’s a meaningful silver lining in any of this, except Metro Columbus, as usual (not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate: 6.1%), I couldn’t find it.

The Buckeye State economy is stagnating. Is anyone in Columbus paying attention?

October 28, 2013

Our Chutzpah Award of the Day …

… goes to the guy who just last week went around the legislature to get $2.6 billion a year in “free” federal money, but had the nerve to send the following email:

While Congress came up with an agreement on the debt limit and avoided a major blow to our nation’s credibility, the core problem facing our country still exists.

America has a skyrocketing national debt and it is simply not sustainable. If our leaders don’t act quickly to rein in the size of government, we’re crushing future generations with a massive financial burden.

Now is the time to do the responsible thing, like we’ve done in Ohio, and mandate in the Constitution that we balance our budget. We owe it to our kids and grandkids to govern responsibly and within our means like American families do every day.

… You can also watch … (a) short video from the Republican Governor’s Association that discusses Ohio’s Comeback story.

The National Media are starting to take notice that while Washington is stuck in gridlock, states led by Republicans are managing their budgets responsibly, lowering taxes, reducing the size of government, and as a result are leading the nation in job creation.

Ohio has a great story to tell about our comeback and with your help, we can keep up the momentum.

We’re all in this together and with your help, we can get it done.


I’ll hopefully have more on that “comeback story” later.

October 12, 2013

Kasich Has Betrayed Ohio

Filed under: Health Care,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:10 pm

Received from Tom Zawistowski last night (bolds are mine):


Conservative leaders reacted negatively today, as Governor Kasich moved to by-pass the Ohio Legislature and implement Medicaid Expansion through the Ohio Controlling Board. Portage County TEA Party Executive Director, Tom Zawistowski, said “The Governor simply could not make his case to conservatives about Medicaid Expansion. He is now going to take 300,000, able-bodied, healthy Ohioans, and give them free health care, while the rest of us are seeing insurance premiums going up 80% and deductibles are going throughout the roof to help pay for it. He has turned his back on his own state party, the national Republican Party and, by our polling, 75% of the registered Republicans in the state. These are the people who elected him into office. He has simply betrayed the 66% of all Ohioans who voted to stop Obamacare by passing the Ohio Health Care Amendment with majorities in all 88 counties in 2011. This will certainly affect his re-election bid in 2014 and that of any Republican who stands with him on Medicaid Expansion.”

The TEA Party is not a political party but a grassroots cultural movement. … The acronym TEA stands for Totally Engaged Americans.

In this case, “E” also stands for (completely and utterly) “Exasperated” and “Estranged.”

Oh, and “Energized.” To stop this unilateral abuse of gubernatorial authority.

September 3, 2013

Columbus vs. the Rest of Ohio Update (See Charts at End of Post)

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:03 pm

Looking at not seasonally adjusted data during the past 12 and 24 months, it’s more than obvious that Metro Columbus has done well during John Kasich’s gubernatorial term, while the vast majority of the rest of the state has not:


First, let’s look at the data set which is less damning, namely that from the federal government’s Establishment Survey of employers (first and third sections in the table above).

Metro Columbus, which has about 17 percent of all statewide employment (and rising), has seen percentage job growth of roughly double of that seen in the rest of the state (5.20 percent during past 24 months in Columbus vs. 2.88 percent elsewhere), and a bit more than double the rate seen in the 12 other Buckeye State metro areas the government tracks. Even Columbus has seen a bit of a slowdown during the past 12 months compared to the previous 12.

But it’s the more inclusive Household Survey’s results (second and fourth sections in the table) which show how Columbus is holding its own, though less impressively, while the rest of the state suffers. The Household Survey picks up self-employment and contract employment the Establishment Survey of payrolls does not. The Household Survey also tells us what is happening to the total labor force, which includes those working and those who are looking for work (but not workforce dropouts or discouraged workers).

Columbus’s labor force has grown in each of the past two years. The rest of Ohio’s labor force shrank seriously during the 12 months ended in July 2012, and has barely grown during the past 12 months. With the exception of Canton-Massillon (detail not presented here), every other major metro area in the state has seen its workforce contract during the past two years. All of Ohio except Columbus has seen a shrinkage of over 66,000.

Household Survey employment growth in Columbus during the past two years has been almost 3 percent. In the rest of the state, it has been 0.47 percent, only one-sixth of that. Only Akron and Toledo at +1.71 percent and +1.69 percent, respectively (not detailed here) have seen meaningful Household Survey employment growth in the past two years.

In the past 12 months, over 97 percent of Ohio’s Household Survey job additions have occurred in Columbus. Other metro areas have picked up an unimpressive 10,000 jobs. That gain has been almost entirely offset by jobs lost in non-metro areas, leaving the rest of the state with almost invisible employment growth of +0.01 percent.

All of this is summarized in the two ugly charts (if you don’t live or work in Metro Columbus) below:


This is not an acceptable situation, but apparently the folks running state government in Columbus don’t mind it. Otherwise, they’d be doing something about it. From all appearances, they’re not.

I guess as long as things are okay within and around the I-270 Beltway, what’s happening in the rest of the state doesn’t matter.

What else are we to conclude?

August 26, 2013

Ohio’s Economy Has Produced an Unacceptable Number of Private-Sector Jobs in the Past 12 Months

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:20 pm

Of all the annoyances in the world, this one’s nowhere near the top of the list. But it is annoying, and since it comes what’s supposed to be the home team, it deserves vetting.

The annoyance, constantly pounded by ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) in its emails, is the true but spectacularly unimpressive claim that Ohio has added 174,700 private-sector jobs since January 2011.

Well, 174,700 is a big-sounding number. But where does this put Ohio compared to other states, and what has the Republican-dominated government and legislature done to make job creation in Ohio easier lately?

I’ll get to the lately part, defined as the past 12 months, right now. The answer is “not much, compared to other neighboring and midwestern states:


Ohio is 46th in seasonally percentage job growth during the past 12 months.

Okay, this is overall job growth and not the private sector. Fine, let’s look at the private sector during the past year for the same eight states:


Ohio is sixth among the eight states under review (the not seasonally adjusted numbers have Ohio barely in 5th; its 62,400 jobs added represents 1.40% employment growth over 12 months, edging out Illinois at 1.39%).

I haven’t looked at all 50 states and DC, but I seriously doubt that Ohio’s private-sector job growth in the past year is anywhere near the top half of all states and DC.

The news gets worse if you look at the Household Survey employment numbers instead of the Establishment Survey’s payroll employment numbers, and even worse when you segregate Ohio’s own politician-dominated beltway in and around Columbus from the rest of the state. That work will follow later when the metro numbers are released later this week.

ORPINO and the Kasich administration are going to have to concoct some other way to impress Ohioans.

Hey, how about jettisoning that ill-advised quadrupling of the severance tax and abandoning Medicaid expansion? Not doing these two things is clearly holding back job growth — just about everywhere but in Metro Columbus, that is.

August 7, 2013

While most of Ohio stagnates, state government continues to spend

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:25 pm

There really are two Ohios: Metro Columbus and everyone else.


This column went up at Watchdog.org earlier this afternoon.


Ohio’s government is spending money as if it believes that happy days are here to stay.

They’re not — at least virtually everywhere else in the state other than Metro Columbus.

There are two economic recovery sagas in the Buckeye State. The story out of Columbus — the one which most of the leaders in state government experience on a daily basis — is one of fairly robust employment growth, especially given the headwinds out of Washington relating to failed Keynesian stimulus, overaggressive regulation, fossil fuel-hostile energy policy, and frightening levels of waste, fraud and abuse.

The story from the rest of the state outside the I-270 beltway and its immediate surrounding area is mostly one of prolonged misery.

Taken as a whole, Ohio’s recovery since the recession officially ended in June 2009, especially as seen in the federal government’s more comprehensive Household Survey, which includes the self-employed and contract workers, has been among the worst in the U.S. When compared to its neighbors and other Midwestern states, it comes perilously close to scraping the bottom:


(Note: Not seasonally adjusted figures were used to eliminate inconsistencies which may be present in seasonal calculations.)

Ohio’s post-recession job growth is third worst on the list, ahead of only Illinois, which has been seriously hurt by horrible debt problems and the drag of huge, ill-advised tax increases enacted in early 2011, and West Virginia, which has been the primary victim of the Obama administration’s war on coal.

The Buckeye State’s performance in the past two years is fifth-best on the list, ahead of Indiana but still significantly trailing Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

As bad as this is, when one separates Columbus from the rest of the state, it gets far worse — for the rest of the state:


If Columbus were a separate Midwestern state, it would have the best job growth during both the past two and past four years among all of the actual states under review.

The rest of Ohio has fewer Household Survey jobs than when the recession ended. Its performance during that time has been far worse than any other state above. Its Household Survey employment growth during the past two years has been barely better than tax-heavy Illinois.

Residents of many areas of the Buckeye State feel as if the recession never ended. Now we see why. Seen from the vantage point of employment, it never really has.

Perhaps Metro Columbus’s strong economic performance explains why state officials, from Republican Governor John Kasich on down, seem to believe that they can open up the state spending spigots without suffering negative consequences.

A week ago, I pointed to a Buckeye State think tank’s projection indicating that if Ohio’s General Fund spending continues on its current course, it will outpace related tax and other collections by fiscal 2015, leading to a budget deficit of over $500 million. In four more years, if the unsustainable could somehow be sustained — and it can’t — the General Fund deficit would be over $6 billion.

The situation doesn’t look much better when seen on an “all funds” basis:

  • Actual spending, Fiscal 2012: $52.854 billion
  • Estimated spending, Fiscal 2013: $56.140 billion (6.2 percent increase over fiscal 2012)
  • Fiscal 2014 appropriation: $59.485 billion (5.4 percent increase over fiscal 2013)
  • Fiscal 2015 appropriation: $61.637 billion (3.6 percent increase over fiscal 2014)

The cumulative three-year spending increase, following closely on the heels of a decade when state spending growth per capita was seventh-highest in the nation, is 16.6 percent, or 5.3 percent compounded annually.

That degree of increase wouldn’t be justified even if the entire state were doing as well as Columbus. And it’s not.

Sadly, Governor Kasich still clings to the idea of quadrupling severance taxes on the state’s budding oil and gas industry. This tax would hurt areas which are already suffering badly. But the tax would likely create more bureaucracy and jobs in Columbus. Is that what he really wants?

July 31, 2013

Ohio, 7th in spending growth last decade, has gone back to binging

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:39 pm

After a 2-1/2 hiatus, the Buckeye State has relapsed.


This column went up at Watchdog.org with minor edits a short time ago.


Spending in Ohio is surging … again.

Direct spending in the Buckeye State grew, per capita, by 41.7 percent during the 10 fiscal years that ended in mid-2011, the Washington-based Tax Foundationa non-partisan tax research group, showed.

It marked the seventh-highest growth percentage in the nation.

Every one of Ohio’s neighboring states had lower spending growth. Only Pennsylvania’s 40.4 percent came close. The others: Indiana, 32.4 percent; Michigan, 21.5 percent; West Virginia, 14.2 percent; and Kentucky, 29.9 percent.

Ohio’s previous-decade spending binge was a bipartisan affair, first pushed by Republican Gov. Bob Taft and a GOP-dominated General Assembly. The strong economy before the turn of the century and the growth in state tax collections that accompanied it allowed Taft and lawmakers to become complacent, to believe they could put spending increases on virtual autopilot.

July 26, 2013

More on Ohio’s Employment Situation (Metro Columbus and the Rest of Us)

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:06 pm

I have had some concern raised about that fact that this week’s posts (here and here) comparing Ohio to seven other neighboring and midwestern states ignored the fact that the Buckeye State at least has a low unemployment rate.

Okay, let’s look at that.

I really wanted to find some good news for Ohioans here — or at decent enough news to counter previous posts this week. Unfortunately, I didn’t — unless you live in Metro Columbus, in which case you should be reasonably happy.

State unemployment rates can go down for three reasons:

  1. People get jobs.
  2. People who can’t get jobs leave the state’s labor force.
  3. People who can’t get jobs leave the state.

Unfortunately, Ohio has had a lot more of Items 2 and 3 in some combination than Item 1 — everywhere except Metro Columbus, that is.

Here’s what employment growth looks like during the past two and four years per the Household Survey, which includes self-employed and contract workers not included in the Establishment Survey of payrolls:


The Buckeye State is an unimpressive sixth in seasonally adjusted employment growth during the past two years, beating out Indiana and Illinois. It’s the worst during the past four years, but that’s because of awful losses during many of the final 18 months the state was governed by Ted Strickland.

Trouble is, as has been seen in so many other analyses done by yours truly, the vast majority of the gains have been in Metro Columbus.

I had to look at not seasonally adjusted figures for May because the government doesn’t prepare seasonally adjusted figures for Columbus, and June raw numbers for the metro areas haven’t been released yet. So the analysis isn’t completely apples-to-apples, but it’s close and current enough to make the point.

If Metro Columbus and the rest of Ohio were separate states, Columbus’s +2.76% performance would put it near the top of the list of Household Survey job growth performers, while the rest of the state, at +0.26%, would be dead last. (Both percentages will obviously change a bit in June, but not by enough to affect the points being made in this analysis.)

Now let’s look at the unemployment rate, which is one of the Kasich administration’s last refuges of relative positivity.

Since Household Survey Growth hasn’t been very impressive, Items 2 and 3 above (people leaving the workforce and people leaving the state) predominantly explain the relatively low rate compared to other states, as seen in the following table:


If Ohio’s workforce had held steady during the past two years with the same level of Household Survey employment instead of declining by far more (0.83%) than any other state listed, the state’s official unemployment rate would be 7.9% instead of its current 7.2%. If it had stayed the same as it was four years ago, the unemployment rate would be 10.2%, second-worst on the list to Michigan. Much of Michigan’s what-if 11.4% can be attributed to people moving out of the Wolverine State.


It gets worse — once again, except for those in Metro Columbus.

Looking at May’s not seasonally adjusted numbers for the reasons noted earlier, we see that:

  • Ohio’s overall unemployment rate was 6.9%. Metro Columbus had 6.0%; the rest of the state was at 7.1%.
  • Metro Columbus’s workforce has grown.
  • Because of that workforce growth, Columbus’s unemployment rates based on past workforce levels would be ridiculously low. That’s what happens in growing areas, and it makes such comparisons sort of absurd.
  • But such comparisons are not absurd for the rest of the state, because its workforce has contracted — by almost 70,000 in the past two years, and by an astonishing (and depressing) 206,000 in the past four.
  • The unemployment rate in the rest of the state based on its May 2011 labor force would be 8.5% — higher than the current rate in every state listed in the first table except Illinois.
  • The unemployment rate in the rest of the state based on its May 2009 labor force would be 11.4%.

Since the state’s overall population has basically held steady during the past four years, it’s reasonable to believe that most of those who have left the workforce are still in Ohio. Sure, some have retired, and some have moved into Metro Columbus, but that can’t possibly explain over 200,000 “disappearing” workers in the rest of the state. I daresay that many are still on the sidelines waiting for a decent enough economy that will make searching for a job worthwhile. And yes, more than a few may have found that living on federal bennies, off the grid, or with Mom and/or Dad make more sense than formal employment.

Paraphrasing what I wrote yesterday: If this doesn’t demonstrate that Team Kasich needs to reevaluate what it’s doing and how it’s doing it from top to bottom, I don’t know what will. Of course, this assumes that they really care about what’s happening outside of the I-270 beltway. Do they?

July 25, 2013

Illinois Outshines Ohio in Job Growth (UPDATE: And Columbus Has the Vast Majority of Ohio’s)

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:23 pm

This post expands on yesterday’s column on Midwestern job growth in June and during the past 12 months and how Governor Kasich’s stubborn positions on Medicaid expansion and “fracking” taxation continue to create the kind of uncertainty which is holding back economic growth and job creation in the Buckeye State.

That column contained the following table:


One can explain away the fact that Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin are outperforming Ohio in job growth, simply because Republicans Mike Pence (and predecessor Mitch Daniels), Rick Snyder (who regained his equilibrium earlier this year by getting behind the Wolverine State’s right to work law), and Scott Walker have been unfortunately (for us, not for them) doing a better day-to-day job in their states than our governor is doing in his. It also probably helps Indiana that it passed right to work early last year, and it “helps” Michigan that it had a bigger hole out of which to emerge thanks to eight awful years of Jennifer Granholm.

Kentucky’s position above Ohio a bit hard to handle, until one remembers that Bluegrass State Democrats generally don’t have the moonbat streak found in most other states, and that Republicans control the state’s Senate.

West Virginia is getting killed by the war on coal. Pennsylvania is to a lesser extent, and Republican Bob Corbett is not doing a particularly good job in a state which is perilously close to becoming incurably blue.

But that leaves Illinois.

Illi-flippin-nois? The state enacted massive tax increases in early 2011 which have hurt its economy and employment growth. Its credit rating is the worst in the nation.

Despite all of that, Illinois has outperformed Ohio in job creation in the past 12 months — by a lot:


If this comparison isn’t a signal that Team Kasich needs to reevaluate what it’s doing and how it’s doing it from top to bottom, I don’t know what is.


UPDATE: In something I didn’t expect (maybe it’s typical and I just don’t know it), the metro area tables at the Bureau of Labor Statistics have been updated through June, even though the related Metro Area report isn’t due until next Tuesday.

That’s useful, because I can modify the above graph to segregate job growth in Columbus from the rest of the state.

This hurts:


Is there anybody out there who still thinks that Columbus isn’t getting almost all of the economic improvement in Ohio, while the rest of the Buckeye State is being left virtually high and dry?

I guess this also explains why so many people inside and just outside of the I-270 beltway seem to think things are just fine.

UPDATE 2: For those who want the underlying numbers:


July 24, 2013

Kasich-caused uncertainty hampers Ohio’s economy

This column went up at Watchdog.org with minor edits a short time ago.


Ohio Governor John Kasich seems oblivious to the damage his political stubbornness is inflicting.

Kasich has often justly complained about what economic and regulatory uncertainties originating in Washington have done to companies and to the state economies and budgets which depend on the jobs those companies create.

Shortly after the November 2010 elections which swept Republicans into power in the U.S. House of Representatives, the newly-elected Kasich joined Congressman and House Speaker-in-Waiting John Boehner, and spoke on that very topic:

“The policies in Washington are hurting our ability to create jobs,” [Kasich] said. “I don’t get what they don’t get about this. Companies need certainty.”

Despite what he said in 2010, the 2013 version of Kasich doesn’t seem to “get” that the uncertainties created by his insistence on trying to expand Medicaid and on passing a steep oil and gas severance tax when the debate over the state’s two-year budget through June 2015 is supposed to be over are hurting job creation in Ohio.

A tale of three (huge) Ohio tax increases

Filed under: Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:45 pm

The lowest in the bunch is 24 percent.


This column went up at Watchdog.org with minor edits Tuesday evening.


Three proposed tax increases in Ohio communities are so large that they make one wonder if the state should revise an old state slogan — “The Heart of It All” — and change it to “The Heart of Taxation.”

One of the increases came to my attention in a phone call. A polite young lady encouraged me to support the upcoming police levy for Deerfield Township in Warren County. I asked her if the levy was a renewal of an existing tax or a tax increase. She didn’t know. Seriously.

It turns out that the levy is a tax increase, and that one has to work a lot harder than should be necessary to determine how large that increase is.

At the “about” page at KeepDeerfieldSafe.com, the levy’s support site, Warren County’s sheriff tells readers that per-resident police protection in the township currently costs far less than it does in surrounding jurisdictions. That’s fine, but left completely hanging is how much more the township wants property owners to pay.

After repeating the per-resident stats the sheriff provided in his letter, the very end of the site’s “fact sheet” finally gets to the required answer: a current 2.5-mill property assessment will increase to 4 mills. That’s a 60 percent increase.