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State’s jobless rates now matches U.S.

State had nation’s sixth worst drop losses.

Ohio lost 8,200 jobs in August and its unemployment rate increased to 7.3 percent, which was one more setback for an economy that has been unable to sustain a significant streak of payroll growth.

Ohio added jobs in July, but then it had the sixth worst job losses in the nation in August, according to seasonally adjusted data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state’s jobless rate matched the U.S. unemployment rate at 7.3 percent.

August was the third month this year that the state employment declined, and the state has not had added jobs for more than three consecutive months since July 2012.

The employment figures reflect an economy that is stuck in neutral, and job growth in the state continues lag the rest of the nation, experts said.

“The recovery is very slow, and inherent in a slow recovery is months of goods news and months of bad news,” said Benjamin Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Nonfarm payrolls in Ohio decreased 0.2 percent in August to 5.2 million workers, according to new labor data. Only five states experienced worse job losses: Georgia, Connecticut, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.

Ohio added a modest 3,200 jobs in July after losing 8,400 in June, which was the eighth worst job loss in the nation, the data show.

But the labor market has been erratic. In May, Ohio posted the third best job gains in the nation.

In August, the largest payroll declines in the state occurred in leisure and hospitality (-7,100 jobs), educational and health services (-6,300), manufacturing (-2,500) and construction (-2,000).

Some of the losses were offset by job growth in trade, transportation, and utilities (+4,900), professional and business services (+3,900) and government (+2,100).

The state’s unemployment rate last month also increased by 0.1 percent.

Some of the job declines were not surprising, considering employment in leisure and hospitality typically drops off at the end of the summer, experts said.

It is also important when looking at monthly employment figures to remember that these are relatively small fluctuations, Johnson said.

“We are talking about a decrease of 8,000 out of 5.2 million,” Johnson said. “When you think about how of small that change is, it becomes more understandable how we can see movement slightly in one direction one month and slight movement in another direction another month.”

But the long-term employment trend is fairly glum.

Ohio has added only 32,500 jobs in the last 12 months, and the rate of job growth has been 0.6 percent in the last year, compared to 1.2 percent during the previous 12-month period, said Hannah Halbert, workforce researcher with Policy Matters Ohio.

“Ohio’s already anemic recovery has slowed,” she said.

The state added jobs for 12 straight months ending in June 2012, but since that time, the longest streak of job gains was three consecutive months between December 2012 and February.

“Ohio’s employment growth is once again below the national average, with a new streak of fourteen months in a row with a sub-par rate of employment growth,” said George Zeller, an economic research analyst in Cleveland.

Monthly figures are also preliminary and subject to revision, meaning it may be unwise to read too much into monthly fluctuations, experts said.

Though the monthly job numbers released this week were not a cause for celebration, good news was found in the number of people filing initial unemployment claims.

So far in 2013, the number of first-time jobless claims has fallen to the lowest level since 2000, according to the state.

The drop suggest the employment status of Ohioans is more stable than it was during the last two recessions dating back to the early 2000s, Johnson said.

“Fewer people are coming to us for unemployment compensation, which means that fewer people are losing their jobs,” Johnson said. “So far in 2013, it seems like more people are holding onto their jobs.”

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