Northwest Ohio again is getting mixed signals about the economy. Local and national unemployment rates are up slightly, despite the creation of thousands of new jobs — a sign that job growth isn’t keeping pace with the supply of job seekers.
But there are several positive signs. Chrysler recorded a 16-percent increase in U.S. auto sales last month from the year-ago month — its best January since 2008. General Motors and Ford also posted double-digit gains.
Housing prices have been rising nationally for several months. That should have a positive effect on property tax revenues, which largely pay for schools, law enforcement, and other local government services.
The jobless rate does not reflect the Americans who have given up on trying to re-enter the work force, or must settle for part-time work. The recovery from the Great Recession is not following the linear path that economists like to see, but its progress needs to be built on in any event. That includes a unified and forward-thinking economic agenda from Congress and President Obama, rather than more partisan bickering.
Lucas County’s jobless figures for January aren’t complete, but the county’s unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in December from 7.4 percent the previous month. That’s well below the double-digit rate in the worst of the recession. Toledo’s jobless rate rose to 8.2 percent in December from 8.0 percent in November.
The national unemployment rate remained steady at 7.9 percent in January, and has essentially not changed for five months. The nation has added an average of 200,000 jobs a month for the past three months, an improvement over the average of 168,000 jobs a month created during the past year.
The biggest job gains have been in retail trade, health care, and construction, while government jobs continue to decline. Much more needs to improve before the recovery reaches all Americans.