COLUMBUS -- Ohio's unemployment rate in January inched lower for the fourth straight month, dropping two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.7 percent, state officials said Friday.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said Ohio added 32,800 jobs during the month, while the number of unemployed workers dropped to 447,000 in January from 458,000 in December. The December unemployment rate was originally announced at 8.1 percent, but was later revised to 7.9 percent.
Economist Jim Coons of J.W. Coons Advisors LLC of Columbus said the overall report was positive and that those numbers are good news.
"The decline [in the unemployment rate] was not due to a wholesale exodus from the labor force," Mr. Coons said. "You can't make too much out of any particular month, but this is a good one. It's in line with what we've seen nationally."
The seasonally adjusted rate is the lowest in Ohio since November, 2008, when Ohio's jobless rate was 7.6 percent. The rate at that time was on its way up to the 10.6 percent peak, which held from mid-2009 to early 2010.
Still, the number of employed Ohioans was lower in January than it was in November, 2008. State data show there were 5.13 million workers in January, while there were 5.49 million workers in November, 2008, a decline of about 6.6 percent.
Officials said the largest job gains were in the leisure and hospitality segment, which added 6,800 jobs, and construction, which added 6,200. Significant gains were also seen in professional and business services, and trade, transportation, and utilities. Manufacturing added 1,400 jobs, the state said.
Mr. Coons said concerns over high gas prices stalling a recovering economy are valid but said there was additional good news this week that somewhat eases some of those concerns.
Revised data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis released Thursday showed that personal income had increased more than previous data showed.
"It's never good for consumer spending when the price of gasoline rises like it has to this level, but the picture is somewhat brighter than it appeared just a couple days ago," Mr. Coons said.
Ohio's unemployment rate is six-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate, which for January was 8.3 percent, as announced on Feb. 3.
Michigan's unemployment numbers for January will be announced Wednesday.
-- Tyrel Linkhorn
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