Ohio’s unemployment rate for May was 4.1 percent, a decrease from the April revised rate of 4.2 percent.
This May also showed a decrease from the May 2018 rate of 4.6 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate for May was 3.6 percent.
According to figures from the state, the number of people unemployed has decreased by 30,000 since January.
Even though May’s rate was the lowest in the last 10 years, looking at the actual number of people in the workforce provides a different picture.
In 2009, there were 5.9 million people in Ohio’s labor force. In May there were only 5.8 million, which was 2,000 less than in April.
“While the unemployment rate did fall to 4.1 percent, its lowest level since the early 2000s, it was combined with a falling labor force participation rate, which indicates that people who were searching for jobs have either stopped searching or have left the state,” said Andrew Kidd, Ph.D., an economist with The Buckeye Institute’s Economic Research Center. The Buckeye Institute is an independent research and educational institution whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the state.
Kidd said it appears the job growth in the state is taking a “summer break,” as May is “the fourth straight month of sluggish or negative growth that Ohio has experienced.”
The data also shows that government employment in May decreased by 800 as the 900 jobs lost in local government surpassed the 100 new jobs in state government. Manufacturing employment was up 2,400 but the construction, mining and logging industries lost 2,100 jobs.
“These bright spots,” Kidd said, “were not enough to offset job losses in other areas, including a loss of 2,000 in the health care sector and a loss of 1,500 in the financial activities sector.”
The Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) of Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton all had unemployment rates below the state’s 4.1 percent. The Toledo area’s rate was 4.7 percent and the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman rate was 4.9 percent, both increases over their April unemployment numbers.
Kidd said that looking at how the unemployment numbers are trending is more important than the individual month-to-month variations. The Toledo MSA rate is still higher than the state as a whole, but it is trending downward from 7.0 percent in January.
The same goes for the trade, transportation and utilities sector. Those industries lost 2,400 jobs in April and added only 500 jobs in May.
“You want to keep tracking this to see if they fill those jobs back or if there is a more significant sector hit that should gain the attention of policymakers,” he said.
– – –
Maggie Leigh Thurber is a writer for The Ohio Star. Email tips to [email protected].