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Economist:?Ohio’s recovery from recession of 2000s ‘agonizingly slow’

May 20, 2013
By LARRY SHIELDS - Staff Writer ( , Salem News

SALEM - Ohio's unemployment numbers rose last week to a rate higher than the last year the state "had unambiguous job growth for the entire year."

Cleveland economic researcher George Zeller, a 1967 Salem High School graduate, said the 8,984 new unemployment claims last week were 16.2 percent higher than the 7,733 during the second week of May 1999, the last year the state's economy showed growth for an entire year.

Thursday's new data is for the second week in May, the sixth week of the first quarter of 2013, and the 19th week of 2013 shows Ohio data deteriorated again while the national data were mixed but also largely negative.

Zeller's reports are designed to measure the point at which Ohio's lengthy 2000s recessionary contraction in its labor market finally comes to an end as a result of the end of job destruction within the state.

He said the data shows that, "Clearly, Ohio's recovery from the 2000s recession remains agonizingly slow."

Zeller said, "This (new) negative figure extended a new streak to 13 consecutive weeks with Ohio experiencing a 'job destruction' level of new unemployment claims."

The 16.2 percent above 1999 elevated level of Ohio new unemployment claims this week was a sharp deterioration from the level fourteen weeks ago that was (minus) -3.0 percent below 1999.

It was an even sharper deterioration in the new update in comparison to the same figure of (minus) -22.1 percent below 1999 that Ohio had 11 weeks ago during the first week of February.

"This week's data confirm that earlier favorable readings during late January and early February were not genuine measures of an improving Ohio economy," he said.

He said that improvements indicated in early 2013 were instead caused by very large seasonal distortion that also showed up in the January data.

This distortion also appeared in the early winter data in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, but now has finally disappeared from the new data for all weeks of March and April 2013 and the first two weeks of May 2013, he said.

"This establishes that the apparently improving 2013 data for late January 2013 and early February 2013 were also "false positive" measures of improvement that were not genuine," he said.

He added that the weakening Ohio data are similar this week in comparison to mixed but primarily negative data that were released at the national level by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Alarmingly, the number of new unemployment claims increased over the year between 2012 and 2013 in three of the seven regional Cleveland-Akron-Lorain-Elyria Counties, Lorain, Lake, and Portage counties," Zeller explained.

Data was unchanged in Medina County and two exceptions were small, year-over-year declines in Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Summit Counties while metro Columbus for the 19th straight week maintained a position in the highest elevated level of new unemployment claims among Ohio's seven large urban regions.

Zeller said, "Columbus has a long history of favorable employment growth relative to the rest of Ohio."

Only three of Ohio's seven large urban regions - Youngstown-Warren, Toledo, and Canton - reduced the current level of new unemployment claims into the "job growth" range this week.

The Youngstown-Warren area had the best current "job growth" reading among Ohio's urban regions with 466 regional new unemployment claims last week.

That is 18.1 percent lower than the 569 it had during the second week of May in 1999, and also a (minus) -17.7 percent lower than the 567 that Youngstown-Warren had during the second week of May 2000.

The annual Christmas shutdown of the General Motors Cruze assembly plant in Lordstown and related Manufacturing firms in Youngstown-Warren produced much less favorable figures during recent December and early January weeks.

But, he said, that December and January seasonal distortion in the Mahoning Valley manufacturing firms has disappeared from the newly updated data.

The current Ohio level this week is also still 29.2 percent above the same level of 6,954 claims during the second week of May 2000, prior to the onset of the 2000-2002 national recession.

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