Report: Recession cost Ohio 185,000 jobs

CLEVELAND (AP) - Ohio lost 185,000 jobs during the recession from 2001 through last March, according to a study released Sunday by a private economic think tank.

Despite the recession, wages in Ohio didn't lose ground, according to the report, "The State of Working Ohio 2003," issued by Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit research institute in Cleveland.

The report also said output, a reflection of economic health, fell faster in Ohio than in 43 other states.

"The good news about the economic downturn is that it has not resulted in dramatic wage decline, and for some workers, wages have continued to rise modestly," the report said.

The group focused on employment and wage data from March 2001, when the most recent recession officially began, through March 2003.

Ohio's unemployment rate, which includes people not working but actively seeking jobs, swelled to an annual average of 5.7 percent in 2002 from 4.1 percent in 2000. It climbed to 6.2 percent in July.

"In terms of job loss, this recession has been worse for the nation than the one that began in July 1990, but it has been significantly worse for Ohio," the study found.

Between the start of the most recent recession and March 2002, payroll employment -- the number of people in part-time or full-time work except those who are self-employed -- declined by 3.3 percent in Ohio, and by 1.8 percent in the nation.

By comparison, two years after the 1990-91 recession started, payroll employment had fallen by less than 1 percent in Ohio and the nation.

In the two years after the latest recession began, Ohio's payroll employment declined, as a percentage, more than that of all but six states.

In terms of the numbers of jobs lost, "Ohio hemorrhaged 185,000 jobs between 2000 and 2002," said Amy Hanauer, Policy Matters' executive director and a report co-author. "Only California and New York have lost more jobs."

Almost two-thirds of those jobs were in manufacturing, the study said.

Last year, about 35 percent of workers who drew unemployment benefits exhausted them before they found work. That was the highest proportion of out-of-work Ohioans to deplete their benefits in almost 20 years, the report said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)