Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in December, with the state gaining 2,900 jobs, the Ohio Department of Job of Family Services reported Friday.
Ohio’s unemployment rate was unchanged from November. In December 2017 it was 4.9 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate for December was 3.9 percent. In December 2017 it was 4.1 percent.
The release of December job numbers shows that 2018 was a good year for net job growth in Ohio, said George Zeller of Cleveland, an economic research analyst.
“Ohio gained 116,500 jobs,” he wrote in an email. “This was the highest yearly job growth that Ohio has experienced since 2011, when Ohio gained 79,000 jobs.”
Zeller’s only concern is an unusually large upward revision of 132,600 jobs last June. Revisions are customary as more information becomes available. He fears that large employment increase will not hold up when the final revision is done later this year.
Andrew J. Kidd, an economist at The Buckeye Institute, agreed 2018 was a good year, but he had concerns about December’s job growth.
“December was a disappointing job growth month for Ohio in an otherwise impressive year, wrote Kidd, part of the conservative think tank’s Economic Research Center, in a news release. “The private sector lost 500 jobs in December, with a large decline in the retail sector (4,300 lost jobs), even during the Christmas season. This is on top of an unchanged labor force participation rate and a flat unemployment rate from November.
“Despite its poor performance, the private sector saw the addition of 104,800 new jobs in 2018 — the third largest in the past three decades,” he wrote.
Hannah Halbert, project director at Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal think tank, said despite Ohio’s job growth slowing during the past four months, 2018 was a good year.
“In 2018, Ohio had a job growth rate of 2.1 percent,” she wrote in a news release. “That was the state’s best year since 1994’s rate of 3.6 percent. This is good news for the state. Last year is also the first year since 2010 that the state outperformed the nation’s job growth average.”
In December, sectors gaining jobs included government employment, which had a net increase of 3,400. Local government jobs were up by 3,000 and state employment increased by 700. Federal government employment was down by 300. Construction jobs increased by 2,600, manufacturing employment was up by 2,300 and financial activities increased by 900 jobs. Mining and logging and the category of other service jobs both were up by 100.
“The good part of December’s jobs report was that there was growth in manufacturing, construction and government,” Zeller said. “Those are the key industries that growth in Ohio.”
He said health care and social services, which consistently has been one of Ohio’s strongest employment sectors, was up by 1,000 jobs in December. He said this was a smaller gain than usual.
The net increase in jobs in December was lower than it had been in recent months because several sectors lost jobs. They included professional and business services jobs, which decreased by 3,700 and trade, transportation and utilities, which lost 1,800 job. The information sector, which includes media, lost 700 jobs and leisure and hospitality employment decreased by 300.
Each of the experts expressed concerns about Ohio’s unemployment rate being higher than that of the U.S. They also expressed concerns about Ohio’s shrinking labor force.
“Ohio’s unemployment rate again remained at 4.6 percent, higher than the national rate of 3.9 percent,” Halbert wrote in a news release. “A year of relatively strong growth has not pulled people into the labor force. Rather, 15,000 fewer people were working or looking for work this December than last. This decline is out of sync with the national trend. The U.S. labor force has grown by 1.6 percent over the last year.”
The U.S. gained 312,000 jobs in December, according to the nation’s jobs report released Jan. 4. Sectors gaining the most jobs included health care, food services and drinking places, construction, manufacturing and retail trade.
By design, the nation’s jobs report contains more detailed information than Ohio and most states.
Here are some highlights from the U.S. jobs report:
Unemployment rate by race — Asian workers had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.3 percent, followed by white workers at 3.4 percent. The unemployment rate for Hispanic workers was 4.4 percent and 6.6 percent for black workers.
Unemployment rate by gender — The jobless rate for women was 3.5 percent in December. For men it was 3.6 percent.
Labor force — The U.S. labor force participation rate, at 63.1 percent in December, was up from 62.7 percent the year before. This measures the percentage of the working age population who are currently employed or seeking employment.
Ohio’s labor force participation rate was 62.4 percent in December, down slightly from 62.8 percent a year earlier.
The U.S. employment-to-population ratio was 60.6 percent in December, up from 60.2 percent a year earlier. This measures the proportion of the country’s working age population who are employed.
Ohio’s employment-to-population ratio was 59.5 percent in December, down slightly from 59.7 percent the year before.
Earnings— Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls in the U.S. in December rose 11 cents to $27.48. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 84 cents, or by 3.2 percent.