The biggest health crisis in a century has taken a big bite out of Ohio’s economy.
But the worst does appear to be over.
The state had 307,000 fewer jobs in January 2021 than it did the year before, according to Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services data released Friday.
The numbers, though, don’t tell the whole story.
Ohio has recovered about two-thirds of the 892,300 jobs that were lost during the early days of pandemic last March and April when the economy was largely shut down.
And the unemployment rate, which hit a state record 16.4% last April, is back to nearly where it was before the coronavirus struck.
How has Ohio’s unemployment rate changed in 2021?
The rate was down to 5.3% in January, a full percentage point below the U.S. rate, according to the state. In January 2020, the Ohio rate was 4.5%.
The labor force has shrunk by about 120,000 people between January 2020 and ’21. If those people remained in the labor force, but didn’t have a job, the unemployment rate for January would have been much higher.
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With the state gradually loosening restrictions on restaurants, bars, sporting events and concerts and vaccines becoming more widespread, job gains likely will be solid for the rest of the year, said Ben Ayers, senior economist at Nationwide. The state should recover the rest of the pandemic losses by 2022, he said.
By comparison, it took years for Ohio and the nation to recover the jobs lost during the Great Recession.
How many jobs did Ohio add in January of 2021?
Ohio did add a robust 28,900 jobs during January, led by pickup of 10,300 jobs in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector, a gain of 6,800 jobs in the private education and health care sector, and the addition of 6,100 government jobs.
The number of unemployed workers in January was 307,000, up 39,000 from January 2020, but down 14,000 from December.
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“It’s a good sold number for January, especially the increases in the service sector,” Ayers said. “I think that’s a preview of what the job market will look like for the rest of the year, hopefully, as the job market gets back to normal.”
Optimistic that Ohio’s labor force will swell in 2021
The leisure and hospitality sector suffered the most job losses of any sector in 2020, falling by 93,500 jobs. There was a decrease of 49,900 jobs in the private education and health-care sector, 46,600 jobs in the government sector, 37,000 manufacturing jobs, and 35,000 jobs in the sector covering professional and business services.
Ayers is optimistic that the labor force will swell in 2021 as workers come back and demand for labor rises.
Since the bottom last April, about 230,000 workers have come back into the labor force, state data show.
“I think we’re going to have strong demand for workers,’’ Ayers said.