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October 7, 2022

Ohio unemployment improves; group warns of slowdown

Ohio’s unemployment improvement in April came with a warning from a Columbus-based policy group as the state continues to rank below average in overall jobless recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recently released jobs report from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services showed the state’s jobless rate fell again in April and the labor market added more than 9,000 private-sector jobs.

Overall, more than 50,000 private-sector jobs have been added in the first four months of the year, more than the national average. Policy experts at The Buckeye Institute, however, fear inflation and a lackluster national jobs report indicate the current pace of growth may slow.

“Ohio’s job market grew faster than the national average in April, but economists are warning that these good times may not last as inflation – which is the highest the country has seen since the 1980s – takes a toll on economic performance. Ohio policymakers should take prudent steps now to ensure the state can weather a downturn in the job market,” said Rea Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute and vice president of policy.

Hederman suggested state lawmakers use part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to replenish the state unemployment compensation trust fund to avoid interest payments that could come if federal loans are needed.

In April, Ohio’s unemployment fell to 4% from 4.1% in March. That continues to be above the national average of 3.6%. Also, the state’s labor force participation rate grew to 61.8% in April from 61.7% in March.

However, the state continues to be bottom 20 states in terms of unemployment rates recovering from the COVID-10 pandemic, according to a new report from WalletHub, a personal finance website.

“This is mostly due to the fact that the number of unemployed people in April 2022 was lower by only about 27% compared to April 2021, which is one of the smallest drops in the country,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub. “The state also had a less than 20% decrease in continued insured unemployment over the April 2022 to April 2019 period, indicating slow recovery.”

Utah, Nebraska, Indiana, Montana and Minnesota were the five best states in terms of unemployment recovery. Washington, D.C., New Mexico, Delaware, Hawaii and Connecticut were the worst.

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