COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) – When the monthly jobless figures came out last Thursday, showing a dramatic drop in the still stubbornly high unemployment rate of one-half percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, another Ohioan, rushed to attribute credit to it to their pro-job polities.
The new rate, 8.5 percent in November, represented the lowest since December 2008 and the biggest monthly decline in more than three decades. Official sources reported that Ohio created 7,000 new jobs last month, the strongest job growth since spring. The number of unemployed workers in Ohio dipped to 496,000, down from 526,000 in October and 565,000 in November 2010.
“Too many Ohioans are still out of work, and we have a lot of progress yet to make,” Kasich, nearing the end of his first year in office said in prepared remarks. “It’s encouraging however, to see Ohio regaining the capacity for an improvement like this, and it should drive us to redouble our efforts to create the jobs-friendly environment we need.”
Not from Columbus but from Washington, Speaker Boehner, who Kasich served with when he was a member of Congress, said that while the job situation remains unacceptable, there are clear signs of progress being made in the Buckeye State under the leadership of Governor Kasich. “The governor’s pro-growth policies are helping Ohio turn things around even in the face of the challenges being thrown in states’ path from Washington, where the Democratic Party still controls all but one-half of one-third of the federal government,” the nine-term Congressman from southeast Ohio said. “By successfully closing Ohio’s $8 billion budget gap without a tax increase — and instead cutting taxes — Governor Kasich has given private-sector job creators increased certainty and confidence in our state. It’s an approach that contrasts sharply with the failed jobs policies of the Obama Administration in Washington, and mirrors our Plan for America’s Job Creators. We have a long way to go in Ohio, but the governor’s policies are taking our state in the right direction.”
But others in the state, like the generally conservative Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper, saw the darker side of the numbers. According to a report by Enquirer reporter Alexander Coolidge, the real reason for the big drop Kasich and Boehner attributed to their brand of political policies came not from the state really being on the rebound, but from “frustrated workers abandoning their job hunts.” This, he said, “may have had the greatest impact on the unemployment rate as a whopping 22,000 dropped out of the state’s labor force, representing the highest monthly exodus since May 1975.
“Most of the result is people leaving the workforce, George Vredeveld, director of the University of Cincinnati’s Economic Center for Education & Research, said. “We’ve seen this at the national level, and now we’re seeing it at the state level.” He told the Enquirer that a significant number of people leaving the workforce are so-called “discouraged workers” who abandon their search for new employment. Nationally, the report said, 42.8 percent of the nation’s unemployed workers have been jobless for six months or more.
“Some people are clearly discouraged,” Vredeveld said, adding, “These are people who no longer look for work, they retire early or maybe go back to school or they’re living with a parent and finding ways to make do.”
Contrasting this good news for Kasich, his critics point out that the unemployment rate dropped faster and more consistently under former Gov. Ted Strickland after the recession than it has under Kasich.
Before this drop, the last three months saw unemployment increases, a fact Kasich sloughed off, saying his new pro-job policies had yet to really kick in.
Kasich defeated Strickland in 2010 by only about 77,000 votes statewide or two percent.
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