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Economy and Business

Ohio's unemployment rate topped the national average for two months straight
The state's unemployment monthly rate increased in September and October

Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services
Courtesy of Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services
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In The Region:

Ohio job numbers are finally out again after a contentious government shutdown interrupted the usual release and analysis.

But as WCPN Brian Bull reports for Ohio Public Radio, what the job figures signify is up for debate.

Hear more on Ohio unemployment rate topping the national average for two months straight

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Ohio’s latest unemployment rate is at 7.5 percent.  That’s slightly above the national rate of 7.3, a finding that’s not lost on Hannah Halbert. 

She’s a researcher with the left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio.  Halbert says the September and October numbers indicate lackluster growth.

“Overall for those two months, the state only added 2,600 jobs,” Halbert said. “And that’s a pretty poor showing. So our 12-month growth rate for Ohio is now 0.5 percent compared to the nation which is growing at 1.7 percent.”

Are tax cuts failing?
Halbert says tax cuts enacted since 2005 have failed to deliver on promises of faster job growth. 

She says more investment in human capital – namely education and training – will pay off better in the long run.

Ben Johnson of Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services puts a different spin on the figures.  He says there are many ways to read the latest report.

“Ultimately what you get to is that the job market is strengthening, the economy is recovering, but it’s happening very slowly,” Johnson said.

Positive trends
Johnson says there have been roughly 13,000 white collar and government jobs shed in the past two months. 

However, he says there are also some positive trends in private sector employment.

“It is actually increasing faster than employment as a whole,” Johnson said. “That state added 10,800 private sector jobs over those two months, and private sector employment actually is the highest it’s been since late 2008.”

Whether the latest job numbers indicate growth or stagnation, there’s little argument Ohio’s rate of recovery will fuel the coming 2014 campaigns, with both major parties taking credit—or assigning blame—as they see fit.

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