Ohio failing to keep pace in GDP growth

State’s economy expanded at 1.1 percent rate in 2011. National economy grew at 1.5 percent rate.

Ohio’s economy continued to grow last year, but it did not expand as fast as it did in 2010 and it failed to keep pace with the rest of the nation, according to new federal data.

The state’s real gross domestic product grew by 1.1 percent in 2011, which trailed the national average of 1.5 percent and was less than half the state’s GDP growth rate of 2.7 percent in 2010, according to preliminary estimates released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

State officials and local economists said the growth in economic output is a positive sign, but Ohio needs more robust growth to shrink unemployment and return to prerecession levels of economic activity.

“It’s encouraging that Ohio’s economy continues to grow but we’d like that growth to be faster and we’d like more Ohioans to be able to get back to work,” said Christiane Schmenk, director of the Ohio Department of Development.

Real GDP, which is adjusted for inflation, is the output all goods and services produced by labor and property in the state.

The state’s real GDP last year was $418.9 billion, up from $414.4 billion in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The state’s real GDP increased by 2.7 percent in 2010 after falling by 6.2 percent in 2009 and 2.4 percent in 2008, according to the report.

Real GDP grew by about 1.5 percent across the United States last year, compared with 3.1 percent in 2010.

Ohio ranked 28th in the country for GDP growth last year, the same rank it held in 2010. The state had experienced the fifth largest decrease in GDP in the country between 2008 and 2009, and the reduction in economic output was also one of the highest in the nation between 2007 and 2008.

The state’s GDP growth last year was “decent” and fairly typical of an economy emerging from a recession, said Robert Premus, an economics professor with Wright State University. Premus said the Federal Reserve is predicting that economic growth will continue at a moderate pace, and that should benefit Ohio.

“It’s not going to be fantastic, but I think we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this Great Recession period,” he said. “We have probably a couple of more years to go before we get on more solid ground.”

Premus, however, said economic growth could always be stymied by instability in Europe or other conditions at home.

Thomas Traynor, who is also an economics professor at Wright State, said real GDP growth does not account for difference in population growth, and Ohio’s per capita real GDP growth is not reflected in the federal data. He warned also that the data is preliminary, and the final estimates could end up being significantly different.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-0749 or cfrolik@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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