Employment fell in Northeast Ohio in September by an estimated 4,286 jobs, according to the latest Crain’s Employment Report (CER), attributable in large measure to a decline in vehicle production.
The drop represents a 0.4% decline in the local workforce. It puts the estimate of employment in the seven-county Northeast Ohio region employed at 1,169,431 people in September, down from 1,173,717 in August.
The region has lost 6,682 jobs, or 0.6%, from an estimate of 1,176,113 jobs in September 2016.
Cleveland Heights economist Jack Kleinhenz, who developed the CER model, attributed the decline to slower auto production. The goods-producing sector of the regional economy, which includes auto production and other manufacturing jobs, lost 3,601 jobs in September, a 1.7% decline, while the service sector, which employs four times as many people as the goods sector, lost only 685 jobs, for a lost of less than 0.1%.
U.S. auto production has slowed in recent months, declining from 326,000 units in August 2016 to 252,800 units in August 2017, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. That has led to shutdowns or layoffs at the region’s auto plants. For example, General Motors Corp. scheduled nine weeks of down time at its assembly plant in Lordstown for 2017, according to the Youngstown Vindicator .
By contrast, construction contractors were experiencing a shortage of experienced labor, making it difficult to fill newly created positions, according to regional information in the Federal Reserve Bank’s September summary of economic conditions, or Beige Book.
The Beige Book also reports that disruptions to spending and production are expected to reduce economic activity nationally in the third quarter of the year but boost it in the fourth quarter. Kleinhenz, who is chief economist for the National Retail Federation, agrees with that outlook, as he expects hurricane-hit households to replace lost vehicles and to fix up damaged homes, while businesses in the path of the hurricanes return to full operations in the last quarter of the year.
“A key reason to remain upbeat about the outlook is the optimism evident in business and consumer sentiment surveys,” he reported.
He cited, for example, the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index, which jumped 6.0 points in early October to 101.1, its highest level since the start of 2004.
“The surge appears to be driven by increased optimism about employment and income prospects,” Kleinhenz said, though he noted that the NFIB small business sentiment index dropped. However, the index still held at a level higher than a year ago.
Crain’s Cleveland Business