Ohio, U.S. jobs reports looking up

Associated Press - and News Journal

COLUMBUS (AP) — State officials say Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent in January but remained higher than the national rate.

The state rate decreased from a revised 4.9 percent in December and was lower than the 5.2 percent rate of January 2017.

The state Department of Job and Family Services says Ohio’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased by 12,100 jobs in January.

Job gains were reported in sectors that include professional and business services; educational and health services; trade, transportation and utilities, other services; and financial activities. Those gains exceeded losses in leisure and hospitality and information. Government employment in Ohio increased by 3,200 jobs in January.

Booming month in U.S.

U.S. employers went on a hiring binge in February, adding 313,000 jobs, the most in any month since July 2016, and drawing hundreds of thousands of people into the job market.

At the same time, average wages rose 2.6 percent over the past 12 months, a slowdown from January’s accelerated pace, which had spooked investors because it raised fears of high inflation. Friday’s jobs report from the government revised down January’s year-over-year wage gain by one-tenth of a point to 2.8 percent.

An influx of new job seekers in February kept the unemployment rate unchanged at a low 4.1 percent.

February’s hiring surge points to a U.S. job market that remains robust, and might even be strengthening. Job growth has averaged 242,000 over the past three months, above 2017’s monthly pace of 187,000. The broader economy is also showing unusual resilience: Its expansion since the Great Recession ended nearly nine years ago is the third-longest on record.

In addition, the Trump administration’s tax cuts appear to have lifted optimism among consumers and businesses. U.S. employers have also benefited from a strengthened global economy.

Investors celebrated February’s burst of hiring, sending the Dows Jones industrial average up more than 200 points in midmorning trading Friday.

“Today’s report is great news for our workers and our economy, and a sign that tax reform is helping provide the boost to job creation and wage growth that we believed would happen,” said U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio). “I’m particularly pleased that the labor participation rate grew significantly, as 806,000 Americans entered the workforce looking to find jobs and take advantage of the growing economy, the largest increase since 1983.”

Most economists expect growth to pick up in the coming months and to accelerate inflation slightly by year’s end. They have forecast that the economy will expand at just a 2 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter before topping 3 percent in the next two quarters.

Manufacturers expanded at the fastest pace in nearly 14 years in February, according to a survey of purchasing managers.

The housing market, too, remains generally solid, with demand for homes strong in much of the country, though rising mortgage rates may begin to slow sales.

Associated Press

and News Journal