Unemployment rate at its lowest in seven years, but labor force sees large declines

Greg R. Lawson Jun 29, 2014

The May 2014 Ohio By the Numbers report continues to show private sector job gains as well as a continuing drop in the unemployment rate. Ohio’s unemployment rate of 5.5 percent is the lowest since April of 2007, before the beginning of the Great Recession. Ohio added 3,000 private sector jobs while dropping 100 government jobs in May.

Although the unemployment rate continues a significant downward trend, this change is largely the result of a large decline in Ohio’s labor force. In May, Ohio’s labor force declined by 14,293 people. As The Buckeye Institute’s Labor Force report indicates, Ohio’s labor force has declined by over 10,000 for three straight months and lost nearly 31,000 people since January.

In line with the shrinking labor force, Ohio’s labor force participation rate also continues to slip. The participation rate was 63.8 percent in May 2013, but is 63.0 percent this May. This reduction was caused by a 44,000 May-to-May loss of people participating in the labor force, despite the working age population growing by 45,000 people over the same time period.

It should be pointed out that a low labor force participation rate is a national phenomenon. In fact, Ohio’s May labor force participation rate is slightly above a 36 year low national rate of 62.8 percent.

For a full Labor Force update, click here.

Overall highlights from the report:

  • Ohio gained 3,000 private sector and lost 100 government jobs in May;
  • Ohio ranked 26th nationally in private sector job growth since January 2010, growing at a 7.6 percent rate;
  • Ohio currently ranks 47th nationally for private sector job growth since January of 1990, growing at 10.1 percent (top-ranked Nevada grew 98.7 percent over the same time span).

Within individual industry sectors, Professional and Business Services, Education and Health Services, and Leisure and Hospitality continue to employ more people today than in either 1990 or 2000. Meanwhile, Mining and Logging, Construction, Manufacturing, and Information sectors have fewer jobs today than in 1990 or 2000.

Between 1990 and January 2012, Worker Freedom states’ private sector jobs grew at a 38 percent rate vs. only 14 percent for Forced Union states (11.8 million vs. 8 million). Since Indiana became a Worker Freedom state in February 2012, Worker Freedom states’ private sector jobs grew at a rate of 5.4 percent vs. 4.2 percent for Forced Union states.

For the full report, please click here.