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Ohio unemployment rate rises, economists not worried

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(The Center Square) – Despite a growing unemployment rate, analysts say Ohio’s job market is in good shape.

The state’s unemployment rate rose to 4.2% in May from 4% in April, continuing to stay above the national rate, which also rose in May to 3.9%.

However, Ohio’s labor force participation rate rose to 61.9% from 61.8%, while the national rate fell from 62.7% to 62.5%, according to figures released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

It’s the second consecutive month Ohio’s jobless rate has topped the national average. April’s rate marked the first time in more than three years the state’s unemployment figures were worse than the nation. In 2021, the state’s unemployment rate was at January 2020 levels and slightly above the national average.

“While Ohio’s unemployment rate has increased, Ohio’s May jobs report does offer some good news. Employers reported adding 22,900 private-sector jobs led by jobs in health care, science and tech,” said Rea Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute. “And revisions to last month’s report reveal that Ohio added 25,000 more jobs than initially reported. Furthermore, unlike April – when both the household and payroll surveys showed a weakening employment situation – May’s payroll survey shows a strengthening job market.”

Michael Shields, Policy Matters Ohio researcher, said May’s job increases were nearly double the jobs added in the last four months combined, and the unemployment rate increase has more to do with people entering or returning to the workforce than an increase in people losing their jobs.

“Slight increases in unemployment mixed with more jobs is a sign Ohioans are confident about finding a job opportunity,” Shields said. “With the growth suggested by the May jobs report, it is not surprising to see more Ohioans being pulled into the labor market.”

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