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Robert Higgs
By Robert Higgs May 13, 2013

State Rep. Mike Foley says Ohio led the nation in job losses for March

During budget debates in the Ohio House, Democrats portrayed themselves as the defenders of middle-income Ohioans, announcing a plan they called their Targeted Middle Class Tax Cut.

The plan, which majority Republicans did not include in the budget, was the brainchild of Reps. Mike Foley of Cleveland and John Patrick Carney of Columbus. The two Democrats announced their plan in the wake of new job figures which they said showed that Republican Gov. John Kasich’s economic policies aren't working.

In a news release posted to his House webpages, Foley cited the job figures and claimed that Ohio lost more than 20,400 jobs in March, and that those losses were the largest of any state in the nation.

PolitiFact Ohio decided to check his claim.

We asked Foley’s staff to support his statement, and also checked ourselves with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, home of a vast array of jobs data. Foley’s staff provided a news article from The Plain Dealer that relied on data from BLS and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

In March, according to BLS estimates, the seasonally adjusted estimate for the total number of non-farm jobs in Ohio was 5,176,900 jobs. That represents a loss of about 20,400 from the previous month, just as Foley said.

You have to go back to June 2009, the month the recession officially ended, to find a greater monthly figure. That month about 33,000 jobs were lost. In April 2009, Ohio lost more than 44,000 jobs, the worst monthly performance so farin this century.

But the March 2013 figure also is small enough that it did not change the unemployment rate. That remained 7.1 percent, just as it was in February, according to the state Department of Job and Family Services.

So how did Ohio stack up against the rest of the nation?

Foley’s claim cites a raw number (rather than a percentage), which means Ohio’s size could come into play. The Buckeye State is the seventh most populous in the nation.

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But did it lead the nation in job losses?  

After all, California, with more than three times Ohio’s population, has a much larger economy. Texas has more than double the people. And New York and Florida, Nos. 3 and 4, each have populations more than 60 percent greater than Ohio.

BLS figures show Ohio did indeed lose the most jobs.

Nonfarm employment decreased in 26 states and the District of Columbia. It increased in 23 states. New Mexico was unchanged.

The largest increases were in Florida, which added 32,700 jobs, and California, which gained. 25,500. The largest decreases were in Ohio (-20,400) and Illinois (-17,800).

In Ohio, the industries posting big losses in March included leisure and hospitality (down 6,000 jobs), professional and business services (down 4,300 jobs) and construction (down 3,300 jobs), according to Job and Family Services.Even the category including health services posted a 2,500 decline.

"That is extremely unusual. That has been our best growth sector for decades," economic research analyst George Zeller told The Plain Dealer.

A bright spot was manufacturing, which has fueled the recovery in Ohio and gained 1,800 jobs.

It is also worth noting that the March job losses were preceded by three months in a row of job gains. And so far this year, the state still is showing a net job gain.The state lost jobs during four months of 2012, but nothing on the scale of March’s decline.

Foley, in his news release, said that Ohio lost 20,400 jobs in March and that it led the nation in jobs lost.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms both the number of jobs lost, albeit an estimate, and that Ohio lost more than any other state. Foley’s statement is accurate, although he is focusing on a month in which the number of job losses is unusually high.

With that point of clarification, on the Truth-O-Meter, his claim rates Mostly True.

Our Sources

Ohio House of Representatives, "Dem Lawmakers Introduce Targeted Middle Class Tax Cut In The Wake Of 20,400 Ohio Jobs Lost In March," posted by Rep. Mike Foley, April 23, 2013

U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Population Estimatesfor the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012

Bureau of Labor Statistics, news release "Regional and State Employment and Unemployment - March 2013," April 19, 2013

Bureau of Labor Statistics, "State and Metro Area Employment, Hours and Earnings," accessed May 9, 2013

Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, "Ohio and U.S. Employment Situation (Seasonally Adjusted)," April 19, 2013

The Plain Dealer via, "Ohio loses 20,400 jobs in March, leading the nation in monthly job loss," April 19, 2013

Email exchange with Kevin Pangrace, legislative aide for Rep. Mike Foley, May 9, 2013

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State Rep. Mike Foley says Ohio led the nation in job losses for March

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