The good and bad about Ohio’s jobless rate

The news is mixed about the rate of Ohioans out of work.  

The state’s unemployment rate has rebounded from late spring’s rates, and it’s below the national rate.

But, in July, Ohio’s jobless rate of 8.9% topped that of many nearby states. Across the Midwest, only one state had a higher rate than Ohio’s: Illinois. 

Keep that in perspective, said Mark Partridge, an economics professor with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). During a recession, Ohio typically takes a bigger hit, he said.

Jobs in manufacturing make up the largest portion of Ohio’s economy, and typically manufacturing sharply declines during a national recession. So far, dips in manufacturing have not been significant, he said. 

“We’re actually doing relatively well compared to what we normally do,” Partridge said. “Usually we’re one of the worst in the country during a recession, and it often takes us a while to climb out of it.”

Still, that’s little comfort to Ohioans seeking work, applying to job after job. Partridge weighed in on the jobless rate in Ohio and his predictions for the end of the national recession. 

Ohio’s July (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate of 8.9% was slightly lower than the national rate of 10.2%. However, the state’s July rate is higher than that of other bordering states. Only Pennsylvania had a higher rate at 13.7%. 

Compared to a year ago, Ohio has lost about 550,000 jobs. That’s a lot of jobs — almost 10%. Still, that’s not as bad some states’ records. Michigan has lost 600,000 jobs compared to a year ago. Within Ohio, the northwest part of the state is struggling most with unemployment. A lot of auto suppliers are located there, and there’s been a significant drop in demand for cars and other vehicles.

How much of a difference is Congress’ stimulus funding making for those out of work?  In the spring and early summer, the typical person was getting more on unemployment than what they were getting when they were working. Along with unemployment benefits, people were receiving an extra $600 a week, but that extra boost ended July 31.

Though Congress still has not agreed on a second stimulus package, President Trump approved a temporary $300 weekly supplement to those receiving unemployment pay. 

Ohio is near the bottom among states for new businesses growth. A century ago, Ohio was the Silicon Valley of the world. The state producing many new products—radios, cars, etc. Once an economy gets good jobs in general, the culture of entrepreneurship is weakened. There tends to be less entrepreneurship, because in generation after generation, they had good jobs, so they didn’t need to start their own businesses. 

The United States has been in a recession since February as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting out of the recession depends on how the coronavirus progresses going forward as well as the type and timing of a second stimulus package that Congress might pass. Congress could not agree to a plan before it recessed for the summer in mid-August.

If the virus can be contained, the economy is probably going to keep making steady improvements in the unemployment rate by the end of the year. If the virus isn’t contained or Congress takes a while to pass another stimulus package, it will just be sputtering along. So, Ohioans need to be prepared for the possibility that things could get worse again.

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