COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. John Kasich warned Friday that Ohio’s economy is not as strong as he would like and he’s seeing signs of a possible slowdown.
Kasich said he’s concerned that businesses are in a holding pattern until after the election and that the state won’t continue to see gains. He said too many people are still out of work to celebrate the state’s 7.2 percent unemployment rate, unchanged for the past three months but still well below the national rate of 8.1 percent.
“As I look at the velocity of the jobs, we’re starting to see signs that are not good,” Kasich told The Associated Press on Friday. He added: “I want the people of my state to know that I just have deep concerns going forward about where we are and where we could end up.”
He said the pipeline of possible jobs coming to Ohio isn’t as strong as it was a year ago. He cited an overseas company planning on bringing 800 jobs to the state, yet a final decision continues to be put off.
Kasich, a Republican and Mitt Romney supporter, said he was not wading into the presidential campaign with his comments. He said he believes Ohio would do better under Romney, and he criticized what he called the “headwinds” of uncertainty over debt, taxes and regulations.
“But I also believe that if it doesn’t go that way we can’t be paralyzed, we just can’t rub our hands and cry in our beer,” Kasich said.
Kasich made his comments returning from Cambridge where glass insulating company Quanex announced it was adding 162 jobs to its existing 170 employees. The state provided incentives to the company including tax credits, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said.
The state Department of Job and Family Services said Friday that seasonally adjusted joblessness in Ohio was again 7.2 percent in August, staying at its lowest level since September 2008. The state’s non-farm payrolls dropped by 2,000 compared with July’s figures.
Ohio’s rate has remained about 1 point below national unemployment rate, which dropped from 8.3 percent in July to 8.1 percent in August.
The number of unemployed Ohio workers dropped by about 5,000, from 418,000 in July to 413,000 last month.
Kasich noted the state has 123,000 more jobs than January 2011, when he took office. But he also questioned the strength of the auto recovery in the state, saying the state has 500 fewer overall auto assembly and parts jobs over the same period. There has been good automotive news recently, he said, but the industry’s overall footprint is smaller.
As he’s said previously, the state must resist calls to spend down its $500 million surplus or increase spending.
“We were in the ditch, the ambulance picked us up, now we are in the hospital and we’re being rehabbed,” Kasich said. “It’s not like we’re healed. We’ve got a lot people still in poverty, a lot of people unemployed, and the notion that we now can kind of relax is false.”
Kasich struck a similar tone at the Republican National Convention, promoting the state’s recovery as a model while saying Obama administration policies were holding Ohio back.