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Thursday, October 23, 2014
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Published: Friday, 7/12/2013

More, better jobs

The employment climate continues to improve in the Toledo area, across Ohio, and nationally. But while the patient may be getting better, he hasn’t gotten well. The public sector needs to engage the issue of job creation more assertively than it’s doing.

The U.S. economy gained 195,000 jobs in June, more than analysts had predicted. Growth in average pay now exceeds inflation. Hiring numbers for April and May were revised upward too.

Consumer confidence is at nearly a six-year high. Although the national jobless rate stayed stuck last month at a too-high 7.6 percent, economists interpreted that as an encouraging sign that more Americans are looking for work.

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Ohio added 32,100 jobs in May — the most of any state and the best monthly performance for our state since 1999. Ohio’s unemployment rate, at 7.0 percent, remains below the national rate.

In Toledo, the index of leading economic indicators is rising, portending a possible spurt in hiring. The four-county metro area added 2,300 jobs between April, 2012, and April, 2013, bringing the total of nonfarm jobs to nearly 306,000.

The Blade reported this week that the number of local job fairs, which virtually disappeared in the depths of the Great Recession, is picking up. Local colleges and universities say more of their graduates are getting jobs more quickly.

But the employment data become less heartening the farther you drill down. Many of the new jobs, locally and nationally, are in the retail and restaurant industries. Such jobs often are low-paying, are temporary or part-time, and do not include benefits such as health insurance. They provide scant basis for giving a family a middle-class lifestyle.

Young Americans are enduring the highest sustained level of unemployment since World War II. Jobless rates among black and Latino workers remain much higher than the overall rate.

Some economic analyses predict that the nation won’t recover the jobs it lost during the recession until the next decade. For hard-pressed communities such as Toledo, it may take even longer.

The federal budget sequester continues to act as a drag on public-sector hiring. Ohio’s new budget does not fully restore the massive cuts the last budget made in state aid to public schools and local governments.

The time remains opportune, while interest rates are low, to embark on a public works program to repair the nation’s decrepit infrastructure. The car-swallowing sinkhole that opened in Toledo last week symbolizes the need.

President Obama has proposed such a job-creating program, and polls suggest that most Americans favor it. But lawmakers, mostly Republican, who insist against all evidence that austerity is what the country needs most continue to block it.

Real immigration reform would create, not reduce, jobs for Americans. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve may want to hold off on its plan to curtail its program of stimulating the economy until the jobs recovery is more solid.

Good jobs continue to top Americans’ action agenda for their elected officials, in Washington, Columbus, and Toledo. It’s time for these officials to respond.



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