The Cleveland-Akron metropolitan area lost 798 jobs between February and March of this year, but that slight dip means little to the long-term outlook since the region gained 708 jobs between March 2016 and March 2017 with employment in March at 1,175,598 on a seasonally adjusted basis.
“We are still holding our own relative to last year, but at a slower pace currently,” wrote Jack Kleinhenz, the Cleveland Heights economist who created the ACE Report model, in his analysis. “The economy is attempting to turn the corner toward a bit faster growth, but the momentum has been slower than expected. The unexpected backsliding in March car sales and February’s flat consumer spending confirm a sluggish start to the spring selling season.”
Kleinhenz wrote that policy uncertainties due to the wrangling of issues by the Trump administration and Congress — in particular the size, composition and the timing of any tax cut and infrastructure spending package — are complicating the outlook.
Kleinhenz added that a conundrum within the labor market is a resistance to wage growth in the face of growing job openings and a shortage of qualified workers for skilled positions.
“Until wage gains accelerate, overall economic spending is expected to continue on a moderate path,” he wrote.
In its annual Labor Day report last year, Policy Matters Ohio, the labor-backed Cleveland think tank, focused on those wages. It argued that while pay in Ohio has been growing — to $16.61 an hour for the median worker — it remains far behind what the median wage was in 1979 when adjusted for inflation.
“Wages are behind in large part because our fastest-growing sectors and our most common jobs are low wage,” the report, “Still Struggling: The State of Working Ohio 2016,” said. “Of our 13 most common occupations, only two pay more than 200% of the official poverty line for a family of three.”
The state lost 75,000 relatively well-paying manufacturing jobs between December 2007 and June 2016, Policy Matters reported, while gaining 176,700 lower-paying jobs in education and the health services and the leisure and hospitality industries.
A pair of economic analysts at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland see wage growth a little differently.
In an “Economic Commentary” released in March, Roberto Pinheiro and Meifeng Yang contend that wage growth nationally has been sluggish since the Great Recession due mostly to weak growth in labor productivity and lower-than-expected inflation. But they argue that “wage growth since late 2014 has actually been above what would be consistent with realized labor productivity growth and inflation, and this trend in wages reflects an increase in labor’s share of income.”
This, they write, shows “evidence that this increase in the labor share may be due to a reversal of the trend to replace labor with capital.”
Seasonally adjusted employment
|Month||Non-Farm||Small (1-49)||Mid-Sized (50+)||Goods-producing||Service Producing|
|Sept 2016 (act)||1,175,448||478,642||696,805||211,538||963,910|
April 21, 2017
By JAY MILLER