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Economy and Business


Ohioans say they are spending more at the State Fair
Ohio State Fair visitors says they are spending more on the Midway as unemployment drops and the economy recovers
Story by TOM BORGERDING


 
Ohio State Fair visitors say the have upped the spending at the Midway.
Courtesy of Ohio State Fair
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Consumer confidence is the highest in more than five years. For Ohio Public Radio, WOSU's Tom Borgerding reports the brighter outlook is evident this year along the Midway at the Ohio State Fair.

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As a roaming polka band plays, the state fair Midway is jammed. Tens of thousands of visitors come annually to the Fair and this year they are more upbeat. Tim and Kathy Miller of Tiro and Kim Covey of Bucyrus are shopping for souvenir T-shirts. All three say they are opening their wallets and pocketbooks a bit more this year.

“Wherever the food takes us," Kathy Miller says. "We have a pocketful of money. His tummy takes us to the food.”

“I took about $80 in cash and my debit card in case it wasn’t enough,” Kim Covey says.

Backing up the numbers
The Midway mood reflects both national and regional economic surveys. The Federal Reserve bank of Cleveland says banks are lending more money. Retail sales, including sales of new cars, are climbing slowly and payrolls are growing. Covey and the Millers say see concrete evidence of economic growth.

“There’s more jobs that came about within the last few years. ... We actually welcomed back our BMV just a few weeks ago," Covery says. "So getting a BMV back in your community is a good thing.”

“There’s jobs coming back," Tim Miller says. "The American people are ready to work. They just need jobs.”

“You see them online all the time, you know, when you can go online and look up a job and there’s a lot of listings that weren’t there a few years back,” Kathy Miller says.

Ohio's unemployment picture
Ohio’s unemployment rate has fallen steadily since January from 6.9 percent to 5.5 percent. Joshua Brooker brought his family to the state fair. He started a new job as an auto mechanic last week.

"The government’s pushing money back in the economy for a stimulus," Brooker says. "That’s making a lot of difference."

Retiree Willie Hall of Columbus is less optimistic. He says he will stick to his state fair budget of about 50 bucks. Hall worked for decades for a chemical manufacturer. He says while Ohio is starting to turnaround, it is worse off economically than some western states.

“Unemployment’s still too high," hall says. "You’ve got to get that down and more productivity before things get better.”

Paul Smith of Dublin makes a finer distinction. He works for a staffing agency and see the Central Ohio job market from the front lines.

“The blue-collar jobs are done but the white collar and high tech and things like that are pretty good,” Smith says.

Smith smiles as he walks toward the skyride. The Midway is nearly full of visitors and like Smith many are feeling more positive about their financial future.

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