May 30, 2016

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Ohio jobless rate still dropping, but with fewer jobs

The jobs report for last month shows that Ohio’s unemployment rate is continuing a slow, downward trend.

But the number of jobs also is declining.

The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services reported Friday that the state’s seasonably adjusted unemployment rate for December was 6.7 percent — down from 6.8 percent in November and 6.9 percent in October, according to the monthly survey of households.

But a separate survey of business establishments found Ohio had 5,185,000 non-farm jobs in December — 9,400 fewer than in November and 10,900 fewer than in October.

Most of the jobs lost in the last month were in the service industries. The state gained 1,000 jobs in goods-producing industries in December.

The losses represented a reversal of the trend of most of last year, which saw the state adding a significant number of jobs.

Even with the declines of the last two months, Ohio still had 90,700 more jobs last month than in December 2011. More than three-quarters of the new jobs were in the service industries.

George Zeller, a Cleveland economic researcher, cautioned that the employment counts are preliminary.

In his analysis of Friday’s report, Zeller predicted job totals “are certain to be subject to very substantial downward revisions” next month, when the monthly numbers are benchmarked against the more accurate counts filed by all Ohio businesses with workers covered by unemployment insurance reports.

Zeller, who tracks the labor market for Northeast Ohio local governments and other agencies, also stressed that the drop in the state’s jobless rate was caused by a drop in the number of people looking for jobs and not job growth.

“A decline of 8,000 in the Ohio labor force was the single cause of the estimated decline in Ohio’s unemployment rate,” he said.

An increase in the number of discouraged workers, who are not counted as unemployed, also was indicated in Medina County’s employment reports in recent months.

Bill Hanigan, director of the Medina County Workforce Development Center, said the county’s labor force declined by 1,100 workers — from 95,300 in October to 94,200 in November, the most recent month available.

December job counts and unemployment rates for Medina and all 88 counties are scheduled to be released Tuesday.

Reporter Steve Grazier contributed to this report.

Contact reporter David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or