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Economic analyst sees ‘noticeably worse’ Ohio jobless trend

September 2, 2012

SALEM - Economic research analyst George Zeller said Ohio unemployment data was "noticeably worse" for the past week than the mixed and also relatively weak data for th country.

Zeller, a 1967 Salem High School graduate, bases his research, in part, on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS said the four week moving average of new unemployment claims rose by 2,250 last week to 370,250.

Zeller said the seasonally adjusted weekly figure for the country also rose by 2,000 this week to 374,000.

"Both figures remain below the 400,000 level that is widely accepted to be the borderline between recession and recovery," he said, adding, "but both figures remain well above the 350,000 level that is widely accepted to measure a weakening economy."

Zeller said, "Thus, both Ohio and national data were relatively discouraging this week. The new streak of three consecutive weeks of 'job growth' levels in Ohio ended, showing that it was not genuine but was instead an artifact of seasonal distortion.

"In addition, a quarterly increase of 0.6 percent between the first eight weeks of the second quarter of 2011 and the first eight weeks of the second quarter of 2012 shows that Ohio is not yet clearly moving from its ongoing very slow recovery to a badly needed increasingly rapid recovery.

"In fact, layoff levels in Ohio are increasing this year during the second quarter in comparison to last year's data. That is a troubling situation."

Also, the numbers released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services are "largely discouraging," Zeller said, noting it was more confirmation that Ohio has returned to an elevated "job destruction" level of current new unemployment claims.

A prior three week streak of "job growth" readings in Ohio's level of new unemployment claims ended.

"It is now clear, similar to what happened last year in August 2011, the early August 2012 data were distorted by changes in the scheduling of the model changeover process in the automobile industry," he said.

"Now that this distortion is finally disappearing from the current data, the Ohio layoff figures took a substantial turn for the worse in last week's update."

The earlier apparent improvement in the Ohio data is now known to have been impacted by the same seasonal distortion that Ohio saw last year in 2011, he said.

"This of course is a discouraging development," he said, explaining that improved Ohio data during last three weeks in January and the first week in February were "false positive" indicators of improvement that were not caused by the end of job destruction in Ohio.

The improvements in early winter 2012 weeks were instead caused by very large seasonal distortion that is always present in January data.

Now that this January seasonal distortion has disappeared from the Ohio data, the state returned to a clear and unambiguous "job destruction" level of new unemployment claims for the third and fourth weeks of February 2012 and also during all weeks of March, April, May, June, and July 2012. In 2008 and last year in 2011, Ohio experienced similar "false positive" readings in January.

Zeller said that last week's report finds that despite substantial improvement measured during the last three weeks of January 2011, job destruction returned to Ohio during all weeks of February, March, April, May, June, and July 2011, and that the lengthy 2000-2011 period of job destruction in Ohio did not come to an end, given additional deterioration during the last two weeks of August 2011, and during all weeks of September, October, November, and December 2011. That deterioration unfortunately continued during the last week of July 2012.

Larry Shields can be reached at



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