A recent article in the Plain Dealer highlighted the political volatility surrounding Ohio’s unemployment rate:
Ohio’s unemployment rate when Strickland stepped into office in January 2007 was 5.3 percent and the state has now lost 429,300 jobs on his watch. These are stubborn facts for the Democrat who campaigned to “Turnaround Ohio” and blamed what he saw as failed Republican policies for Ohio’s problems in 2006.
They also recognize the potential for further trouble for Ted Strickland:
…the little known fact about unemployment rates is that they count only people who are actively seeking work, so if you are so discouraged by the job market that you have given up hope then you aren’t unemployed. National labor experts say this generally adds about 2 more percent to the unemployment number, so it’s not a stretch to say that an Ohio county with 18 percent unemployment really has one out of five people out of work. Clinton, Highland, Huron, Morgan, Noble and Ottawa counties, you can raise your hands.
What they miss is a chance to highlight the future problems in store for Ted when it comes to more people coming back to the work force. While Ohio did gain a little over 11,000 jobs last month, the labor force is still down nearly 62,000 from where it was at its peak in April of 2009. Unfortunately for Ted, in that same month Ohio had 115,000 more employed workers, but still maintained an unemployment rate of 10%.
In other words, the only thing that can help Ted is if there is a surge of new jobs for those people currently looking for work. If the workforce increases, then any gains in jobs will be offset in the unemployment rate by those finally looking for work again.
In other words, it makes it hard to see a way for the unemployment rate to sharply improve in any way that can help Ted.
But the PD article eloquently ends with a life lesson that Governor Strickland never seemed to understand:
Across the street from where Strickland goes to work every day at the Statehouse sits a statue of former Republican Gov. Jim Rhodes, a fellow son of southern Ohio who made enough sense to voters that they made him governor four times. You can look it up.
An inscription on one side of the statue’s base quotes Rhodes as saying, “The greatest contribution a governor can make is to create jobs in the private sector.”
If that’s the prime measuring stick that voters use this November, there could be a different guy going to work across the street at the Statehouse next year.