June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Jobless rate not as bad as it appears

The number of Medina County residents looking for work was up in June for the third month in a row.

But growth in jobs failed to keep pace.

As a result, the county’s unemployment rate jumped to 6.6 percent, up from 5.8 percent in May.

The county’s labor force totaled 95,700 in June — 1,600 more than reported in May, according to a report released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

But the report found the county added 700 jobs last month — 900 less than the increase in the labor force, which is made up of those with jobs or looking for work.

George Zeller, a Cleveland researcher who tracks economic data for Northeast Ohio policymakers, said the increase in the jobless rate probably was less severe than the numbers indicate because county employment statistics — unlike the federal and state numbers — are not adjusted for seasonal swings in the job market.

Zeller said June’s unemployment numbers also are distorted by the number of graduates entering the labor force. Zeller and other economic experts say the year-over-year comparisons are the most valid at the county level.

By that measure, Medina’s June unemployment rate increase was much smaller — only 0.2 percent higher than in June 2012.

But the data show the recovery of the job market remains slow. Tuesday’s report estimated Medina County had 89,400 jobs last month — 900 less than in June 2012.

While the labor force has grown in the past several months, the June total of 95,700 is the smallest since 2005.

The May employment rates rose in all of Ohio’s 88 counties, ranging from a low of 4.6 percent in Mercer County to a high of 12.7 percent in Meigs County.
Medina’s 6.6 percent rate tied for 14th best.

Ohio’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month was 7.2 percent. The unadjusted rate was 7.5 percent.

For the nation in June, the adjusted rate was 7.6 percent and the unadjusted rate was 7.8 percent.

Although the statewide unemployment rate was slightly lower than the national average, Zeller said Ohio still hasn’t recovered from the 2008 recession, which officially ended in June 2009.

“This year we are seeing an increase in the labor force — that is good. But they are going back into this extremely weak economy, which is why unemployment went up,” he said.

Zeller pointed out that Ohio lost 12,500 jobs in June — the second largest loss among the 50 states, behind Tennessee. He said that last month was the 12th month in a row that Ohio lagged behind the national job growth average.

Zeller said it will take 21½ years for Ohio to recover from the jobs lost during the recession — and that is only if the economy starts to regain momentum.

Contact Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com.