The Buckeye Institute: Ohio Rang in the New Year with Strong Job Growth, Labor Participation a Growing Concern

Mar 11, 2022

Columbus, OH – Rea S. Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute and vice president of policy, commented on the newly released jobs report from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. 

“In January, Ohio’s job market continued to improve with the unemployment rate falling from 4.5 percent to 4.3 percent. While the state’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national average, this January’s report shows strong improvement compared to January 2021 when Ohio’s unemployment rate stood at six percent. 

“Of concern is the apparent stagnation of Ohio’s labor force participation rate, which remained the same at 61.5 percent and below the national average of 62.2 percent. When compared to February 2020—when Ohio’s labor force participation rate was 63.7 percent—more than 200,000 fewer Ohioans are in the labor force. If Ohio is unable to reverse this trend and attract new, younger workers into the job market, the state will become less attractive to employers, which will have long-term harmful effects on Ohio’s economy. 

“While the private-sector added 13,200 new jobs in January, Ohio remains more than 150,000 private-sector jobs below the pre-pandemic level. Construction added 2,800 jobs and continues to see strong job growth. Hotels and restaurants added 2,200 jobs as the sector continued its recovery with concerns over Covid declining. A worrying trend is the loss of 600 jobs in the health care and social assistance industries, which have lost 2,300 jobs since January 2021. While some of this job loss is natural attrition due to the slowdown of Covid, burnout among health care workers is a growing concern for a state that has an aging population. 

“As Ohio enters its third year of the pandemic, many Ohioans remain on the sidelines—out of the labor market—and many employers are still struggling to fill job openings, despite raising wages. To reverse this trend Ohio needs to implement policies that will attract more workers to the Buckeye State—something The Buckeye Institute will address in a soon-to-be-released policy report.”

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