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Two Opposing Groups Agree: 2016 Was Bad Year For Job Growth In Ohio

Job ad in newspaper classified
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio's unemployment rate stayed around 5 percent for most of 2016.

Last year was a hard one in a category that nearly every politician talks about and nearly every election hinges on: the economy. And specifically, it was a tough year for job growth in Ohio.

It’s rare that Gov. John Kasich’s job-creating entity agrees with the liberal leaning research group that went to court over the creation of that office. But JobsOhio and Policy Matters Ohio both say last year wasn’t a great year.

JobsOhio says the state created 3,000 fewer jobs in 2016 than the year before, and that was fewest number of jobs created since 2013. And Policy Matters Ohio says 2016 was the worst year for job growth in Ohio since the end of the recession in 2009.

Jon Keeling at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says he’s watching the trend. He says in the 20 years before Kasich took office, Ohio’s job growth rate was 48th among all 50 states.

“Since the Kasich administration, through December of ’16, we were 23rd. That was the fourth best improvement among any state in the nation. What’s important here is we’re improving, we’re on an upwards trajectory and that’s what matters.”

But the Policy Matters report says Ohio’s job growth was only .9 percent last year, while the nation’s job growth rate was nearly double that. Researcher Hannah Halbert says that raises an important question.

“Is doing more of the same, is sort of continuing this policy of tax cuts and shorting the revenue we have available for investment at the state level, is that really going to work? When do we kind of call that question and say, let’s look and re-evaluate these kinds of policies.”

JobsOhio says that the project pipeline shows 30 percent more job opportunities ahead. Halbert says she’s hopeful, but doubtful.