COLUMBUS — A long, steady decline in Ohio unemployment paused in May, but state officials said Friday that the job market continued to improve and outperform those in other states despite the unchanged jobless rate.
Ohio registered 8.6 percent unemployment in May, matching the rate from April, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said. The rate was stuck in place following a 14-month string of declines, a post-recession streak that officials had said was the longest of its kind since Ohio unemployment fell for 19 straight months in 1983 and ‘84.
The May report “continues the trend that we have seen and the trend that we expect to continue, which is that the job market will slowly improve but there will be months where we don’t see a lot of improvement, and there will probably be some months where we take a step backwards,” said Ben Johnson, a department spokesman.
The number of workers unemployed in Ohio dipped to 508,000 in May, from 509,000 the previous month. Payrolls outside of farms grew by 12,000, officials said. The biggest hiring gains were seen in education and health services, and professional and business services. Government was the big loser.
For the second month in a row, Ohio had a lower unemployment rate than the national one, which was 9.1 percent in May, up from 9.0 in April. That reflects how Ohio has seen a strengthening in industries such as automobile manufacturing, while other states are in a tougher struggle to recover, Johnson said.
“The financial sector and the housing sector and construction are three areas in Ohio that were hurt by the recent recession, but maybe not to the extent that they were in other states,” he said.