SALEM - Previous economic data that showed an improvement in Ohio for the third and fourth weeks of January 2012 and the first two weeks of February 2012 has disappeared according to George Zeller, a Cleveland economic researcher.
"All of that improvement disappeared during the third and fourth weeks of February and during all weeks of March, April, May, June, and July 2012 including last week's update," Zeller, a 1967 Salem High School graduate, said Thursday.
"The deterioration was widespread across the state of Ohio," he said, explaining that on a statewide basis, unfortunately, there was a "job destruction" reading on new unemployment claims for the 22nd consecutive week, according to newly-released update for the first week of July 2012.
But the situation in Youngstown-Warren remains dramatically different and dramatically improved last week in comparison to data for November and December, Zeller said.
Thirty-two weeks ago, the Youngstown-Warren area enjoyed a streak of 12 consecutive weeks measured by a "job growth" reading that was barely broken, mainly because of deterioration in Trumbull County.
Twenty-five weeks ago the Youngstown-Warren area suddenly and stunningly returned to a "job destruction" reading, breaking the streak of five consecutive weeks of "job growth," Zeller said.
Then, in the next four weeks in December 2011, unemployment claims soared because of a temporary closure of the Lordstown General Motors automobile assembly plant.
The plant closure moved the Youngstown-Warren area from the lowest elevated level of new unemployment claims among Ohio urban regions to the highest elevated level of new unemployment claims among the large Ohio regions for four consecutive weeks.
Zeller called that "stunning."
But the area economy has recovered despite the "disappointing and clearly negative" statewide data and "despite some national improvement."
State layoff data measures a definite "job destruction" reading and given additional elevated levels of Ohio layoffs this week. This is a highly discouraging development, particularly in contrast to the far less elevated levels of layoffs that Ohio experienced during previous January 2012 and early February 2012 weeks.
Zeller said the new information is evidence that earlier data showed "false positive" readings. January data are always difficult to interpret properly, since January and early February always have the highest level of layoffs during any months of the year. In January 2008 and last year in January 2011, Ohio's level of new claims fell below its 1999 level for a very welcome "job growth" reading during the last three weeks of January. In February 2008 and in February 2011, Ohio's favorable readings disappeared and Ohio returned to additional job destruction. It is now known that the extremely positive readings in both late January 2008 and late January 2011 were "false positive" readings caused only by January seasonal distortion in the data. The same thing happened in January 2012.
The new data once again shows negative "job destruction" readings across a very large majority of the state of Ohio, Zeller noted, adding, "This is a highly discouraging reading that indicates excessive layoffs across the state last week.
"Ohio badly needs a rapid economic recovery instead of the very slow economic recovery that it has recently experienced."
The updated numbers measure widespread weakening in the Ohio labor market across an overwhelming majority of the state, particularly in comparison to more favorable data seen during most of January 2012 and during early February 2012 weeks. Ohio's ongoing weak economic recovery weakened further during the first week of July 2012, he said.
Despite still highly negative developments at Lordstown during December 2011 and last week's relapse, the Mahoning Valley has still has experienced a "job growth" reading during 39 of the last 51 weeks.
Larry Shields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org