By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) â¿¿ While Ohio's labor force is not growing at the preferred rate for an economic recovery, the number of unemployed people in the state is significantly lower than a year ago, the state said Friday as it announced monthly unemployment rates.
Ohio's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 7 percent, unchanged from January, and well below the national rate of 7.7 percent.
The state's nonagricultural jobs increased 16,100 over the month, from a revised figure of 5.181 million in January to 5.197 million in February, according to the latest business establishment survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor in cooperation with Job and Family Services.
Ohio's labor force is barely growing in contrast to what economists hope to see during a recovery, Job and Family Services spokesman Ben Johnson said Friday.
"Economists expect the labor force to shrink during a recession as people become frustrated and stop looking for work or decide to go back to school or take early retirement or do something that takes them out of the labor force temporarily," Johnson said.
"As the economy recovers, you expect those people to leave school, maybe to look for work again, different than whatever they've been doing previously, and you expect the labor force to begin to grow again," Johnson said. "That hasn't really happened."
The good news is that the number of unemployed Ohio workers in January â¿¿ 401,000, though slightly up from January â¿¿ has decreased by 30,000 during the past 12 months, Johnson said.
A spokesman for Gov. John Kasich said efforts to boost the economy are paying off but too many Ohioans still are out of work.
"We need to double down on our efforts to cut taxes for small businesses and make Ohio more jobs-friendly so we can keep making progress," spokesman Rob Nichols said in a statement.