By: Chris Abrahms, Special Contributor.
As the national economy continues to thrive with unemployment dropping to 3.6%, Ohio continues to lag behind at 4.2% unemployment. This higher rate is due to many factors including job losses in manufacturing, construction, and retail as well as overall sluggish job growth. Mark Williams of the Columbus Dispatch states, “That sector had been steadily adding jobs in Ohio since the recession ended. But manufacturing employment has been trending lower since it peaked in January, including a loss of 2,300 jobs in October.” According to the Ohio Jobs Report 2019, manufacturing and retail sectors were affected the most. Ohio’s construction sector had a job loss of 1,700 workers in October while the biggest hit came from retail at 5,000 jobs lost.
However, during this same time, we have seen government jobs increase by 3,000 workers, artificially bolstering jobs reports that don’t focus on private-sector job growth. In contrast, private-sector jobs were down last year, leaving Ohio well short of the 13,900 jobs needed to get back to its pre-recession totals. "Through October, Ohio has lost 10,300 jobs since Jan. 1 and stands poised to record a yearly job loss for the first time since 2009.“ (Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch). Even if the final jobs-reports of 2019 show a modest increase, Ohio would still be left with its worst private sector jobs-growth since the Great Recession.
The Midwest has economically struggled over the past decade, but the trend can be changed. Direct focus on job creation and fixing our overall business climate through tax and regulatory reform will allow Ohio to compete with southern and western states that are currently taking in Ohioans looking for better opportunities. Trade resolutions on the federal level will help bring stability to agriculture and manufacturing, while growth-oriented policy would generate new manufacturing jobs to offset previous losses. Unless Ohio changes courses soon, it will continue to struggle to keep up with the rest of the country.