The Northeast Ohio workforce gained 682 paychecks in February. A small number, but in a jobs picture on a roller coaster, any gain is better than the alternative.
The latest Ahola Crain’s Employment (ACE) Report projects that private-sector employment in the Cleveland-Akron metropolitan region’s private sector grew to 1,164,001 jobs in February from 1,163,319 in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, an increase of 0.06%.
The economy of the seven-county metro area seems to be settling into a new normal of year-to-year slow job growth with month-to-month ups and downs, even when seasonal fluctuations are smoothed out. Over the last 12 months, employment is up 1,433 jobs, a slight 0.12% gain since February 2015, when the region employed 1,162,568 people.
Employment peaked in July at 1,167,490, then slid for four months to 1,161,984 before recovering.
“The estimated job growth indicates a modest pace of business activity,” reports economist Jack Kleinhenz, who devised the ACE model. “The world economies were not well behaved in the early months of 2016, impacting the outlook for the U.S. and probably creating some drag on the regional economy.”
The metro area growth lags slightly the growth in state employment.
According to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, employment statewide grew by 53,000 jobs, a 0.98% gain from 5,344,000 in February 2015 to 5,397,000 in February 2016.
Manufacturing has been sluggish, stemming from slower growth overseas and the stronger U.S. dollar, Kleinhenz said, though he believes that gains in consumer spending, income, employment and housing prices will counter the manufacturing slowdown.
“Consumer spending is off on a strong start this year,” said Kleinhenz, who is the chief economist for the National Retail Federation, a major retail trade association. “Housing should get the benefit of a better labor market and growing incomes. The early Easter should also pull spending into the first quarter.”
The Federal Reserve Board’s March Beige Book, the Fed’s eight-times-a-year assessment of economic conditions across the country, concurs with the ACE characterization. It lumps its Cleveland-based Fourth District — which includes Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Kentucky — among the majority of the Fed’s 12 districts that are reporting “modest” growth in the labor market.
The Fed noted reports from the Fourth District that low-skilled jobs were becoming increasingly difficult to fill.
The ACE Report is based on payroll data from about 3,000 predominantly small and midsize employers that is gathered by The Ahola Corp., a Brecksville payroll and human capital management firm and on other economic indicators, including construction data and retail sales.
|Month||Non-Farm||Small (1-49)||Mid-Sized (50+)||Goods-producing||Service Producing|
|Recent Month’s Estimated Change|
|Jan ’16 to Feb ’16||682||367.95||314||(1,172)||1,854|
|Diff from Feb 2015||1,433||888||544||(4,114)||5,547|
By JAY MILLER
March 25, 2016