Latest jobs report shows Ohio is a national leader

COLUMBUS — Increases in Ohio’s employment and labor force participation rates last month make the state a national leader, according to a policy analyst at The Buckeye Institute. The state’s latest jobs report showed Ohio’s unemployment rate fell for the first time in nine months.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ May employment report, released Friday morning, shows the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent in May from 5.2 percent in April. Labor force participation increased slightly in May to 63.6 percent from April’s 63.5 percent. Buckeye’s Joe Nichols said both combined make Ohio a national leader.

“Ohioans want to work, as evidenced by the continued increase in the state’s labor force participation, which is outpacing the national average,” Nichols said. “The fact unemployment finally dropped after nine months of stagnation means workers are starting to find jobs.”

Over the last year, the United States labor force participation has remained virtually flat at 62.8 percent. By comparison, Ohio’s labor force has grown nearly 1 percent over the last year to the current rate of 63.6 percent. Nichols says the state should continue to pursue policies to meet that rising demand.

“We should look at any policies or regulations that are barriers preventing Ohioans from finding meaningful work,” Nichols said. “Gov. Kasich’s recent signing of a measure that will allow cosmetologists to move up in their careers is representative of the types of reforms Ohio workers need.”

The May report shows educational and health services added the most jobs last month (+7,900). The biggest losses came from manufacturers of durable goods (-5,200). Local government also continued to shrink, with 4,700 job losses.

The Buckeye Institute analyzes Ohio’s unemployment rate to identify policy solutions for increasing job opportunities and strengthening the state economy.

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Founded in 1989, The Buckeye Institute is an independent research and educational institution – a think tank – whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.

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Prescribing state health care solutions for 2017

Health care has again made news with many states reporting large increases in proposed health insurance premiums. Some insurance companies like United Health have announced they are pulling out of certain insurance markets due to large financial losses. These issues all but guarantee that health care will again be a flashpoint in an election year.

No matter who is elected president or controls Congress, states will have some big decisions on health care in the next few years. A new paper I coauthored with Brian Blase from the Mercatus Center gives an overview of looming health care issues that governors and state legislatures need to be ready to address.

A Republican president would likely repeal part of the Affordable Care Act, and state lawmakers need to be prepared to regain oversight of their state health care markets. Many states passed state legislation to duplicate part of the ACA. A first step for any state lawmaker would be to see how they separate their state from some of the ACA requirements.

No matter who is president, Medicaid spending is going to be an important concern for states. National leaders for both parties have looked at reducing Medicaid payment rates, and federal auditors are trying to reduce Medicaid gimmicks that states use to garner more funds.

While state lawmakers may not control federal health care policy, they can control state licensing restrictions. Lawmakers should look at state health care regulations like certificate of need that will restrict competition and increase costs. Ohio, and other states, is trying to use civil society through charity care to help provide medical care to its citizens. These state solutions will become more important health care costs continue to increase.

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Buckeye Institute announces appointment of Orphe Divounguy as economist and Jeff Reed as communications director

COLUMBUS — Two new staff members have joined The Buckeye Institute, the Ohio-based free-market think tank announced today.

Orphe Divounguy (OR-fee DEE-voon-GEE) has been named Economist in The Buckeye Institute’s Economic Research Center, and Jeff Reed will serve as the organization’s new Director of Communications.

Divounguy’s research at The Buckeye Institute’s Economic Research Center will analyze current economic issues, including public assistance programs and labor policies, and will allow Buckeye to complete “dynamic” scoring and analysis of budgets in Ohio and other states. Reed will lead the organization’s state and national press relations and marketing.

“We are excited about the ideas and experience Jeff and Orphe bring to The Buckeye Institute and to Ohio,” Robert Alt, president and CEO of The Buckeye Institute, said. “The expansion of our Economic Research Center will make Buckeye the go-to resource for economic analysis of legislation. And Mr. Reed’s extensive background in marketing will assure that our ideas are seen around the state and across the country.”

Divounguy joins The Buckeye Institute after earning his Ph.D. from England’s University of Southampton, where he also obtained his master’s degree. After receiving his Ph.D., Divounguy served as a teaching and research fellow and international economic consultant. Divounguy’s research focused on labor markets, migration patterns, and economic development.

Before his time in higher education, Divounguy interned at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York, NY, and Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

Reed previously served as the Global Communications Leader for Corporate Responsibility at Cummins Inc., an Indiana-based Fortune 250 manufacturing company. At Cummins Reed promoted the company’s community engagement activities among its 60,000 global employees.

Prior to Cummins, Reed directed communications for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the national nonprofit started by Nobel laureate Milton Friedman. Reed also held public relations roles at the American Legislative Exchange Council in Washington, D.C., after graduating magna cum laude from Ohio University.

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Founded in 1989, The Buckeye Institute is an independent research and educational institution — a think tank — whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.

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Ohio House passes reforms to civil asset forfeiture

COLUMBUS — Yesterday Ohio’s House of Representatives passed reforms to civil asset forfeiture, which, under current law, allows government to take property from individuals who have not been charged with crimes. The Buckeye Institute, Ohio’s free-market think tank, applauded the reforms.

House Bill 347 eliminates civil asset forfeiture in most cases involving property worth less than $25,000, and strengthens what the government must prove for property to be forfeited. The measure, also supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, passed the House 67-24.

“This policy is a significant step forward in protecting property rights,” Daniel Dew, The Buckeye Institute’s Criminal Justice Fellow, said. “At the same time this reform preserves the ability of the government to seize property from those actually convicted of crimes.”

The Buckeye Institute testified before the Ohio House Judiciary Committee about cases in which property was wrongly seized by the government costing innocent citizens thousands of dollars.

“Government exists to protect private property of the innocent, not to confiscate it,” Robert Alt, president and CEO of The Buckeye Institute, said. “More can and should be done to protect the property rights of innocent Ohioans. Buckeye will continue to champion additional reforms to protect these rights.”

House Bill 347 will next go to the Senate, where it will likely be reviewed after the November election.

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Founded in 1989, The Buckeye Institute is an independent research and educational institution–a think tank–whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.

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Buckeye Institute celebrates legislative win for cosmetologists

COLUMBUS — Cosmetologists aspiring to become store managers will have a clearer career path in Ohio, should a newly approved piece of legislation be signed into law by Gov. Kasich. Ohio’s free-market think tank, The Buckeye Institute, applauded the General Assembly’s move.

Today, the Ohio Senate concurred with minor House changes to Senate Bill 213, sponsored by Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander), ending Ohio’s requirement that cosmetologists get a special state license to be promoted to store manager. The bill, which will now go to Gov. Kasich’s desk, cleared the House last week 96-0 after initially passing the Senate 32-0.

“More Ohio cosmetologists will now have the opportunity to advance professionally, earn higher incomes, and take on leadership roles in their careers,” Rea S. Hederman Jr., Buckeye’s executive vice president, said. “Excessive government licensing is a barrier to many Ohioans, particularly to low- and middle-income residents.”

Under current Ohio law, cosmetologists must undergo an additional 300 hours of training to obtain a government-issued salon-manager license, on top of the 1,200 training hours they already spent receiving their cosmetology license. For years, the reform has stalled because of opposition from private cosmetology schools, which sell trainings for the licenses.

“More Ohioans now have the opportunity to move up in their careers, and in life, by removing this harmful government licensing barrier,” Sen. Jordan said. “This would not have been possible without our broad coalition of supporters, including The Buckeye Institute, which raised this issue among state residents and provided valuable research to policymakers on Capitol Square.”

Jordan’s measure was cosponsored by Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus). A companion bill was introduced in the House by Representatives by Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) that facilitated Senate Bill 213’s eventual passage.

“Getting rid of the salon manager’s license is particularly gratifying, but there are many other licenses we should be examining,” Rep. Roegner, a long-time advocate against over-licensure, said.

The Buckeye Institute brought increased scrutiny to Ohio’s cosmetology requirements in Forbidden to Succeed: How Licensure Laws Hold Ohioans Back. The study, released in November 2015 at a statehouse event with lawmakers, details over-licensed and over-regulated modest-income professions. Hederman said The Buckeye Institute will bring a similar focus to other licensing requirements.

“If Ohio is to grow its economy and create opportunity for its residents, policymakers must take a close look at other government-mandated licensing requirements,” Hederman said. “Cosmetologists and other licensed professionals want to move ahead. Ohio should let them.”

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Founded in 1989, The Buckeye Institute is an independent research and educational institution – a think tank – whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.

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Ohio Jobs Tracker: What caused Ohio’s increase in labor force participation?

Something strange is happening in Ohio. In recent years, the Ohio economy has been mediocre to dead-last when it comes to most economic metrics. But lately, the Buckeye State has led the country in one of the most important economic indicators.

Specifically, Ohio’s labor force participation rate is growing faster than the national average, which the state’s April jobs report recently showed. This metric tracks the number of people who are working or actively looking for a job relative to the total number of working-age people. A high labor force participation rate means the economy is healthy and people are optimistic about their opportunities in the workforce.

After the Great Recession, labor force participation plummeted across the country and has yet to return. Many people lost their jobs and either retired early, gave up after failing to get a new job, or just never felt good enough about their prospects to even try. It’s one of the biggest and most persistent problems in our economy today. Economist Casey Mulligan has shown that policies intended to relieve the unemployed, such as expanded Medicaid and unemployment insurance, only served to exacerbate the problem.

Labor Force Participation Plummeted After the Recession

Fortunately, that’s starting to turn around at the national level, and Ohio has curiously become one of the juggernauts driving this trend. The Buckeye State jumped a full percentage point in the last 12 months, while the U.S. remained flat.

In the Last Year Ohio Has Blown Past the U.S. Average

Best of all, this change is happening for all the right reasons. The labor force participation rate can increase because of more people working or searching for a job, or because the working-age population is declining as people retire or leave the state. Ohio’s working-age population is relatively flat, but people are surging into the labor market in recent months. This is cause for optimism and, if the trend continues, might be a harbinger of real recovery (at last).

Ohio Labor Force Outpaced Population Over Last Year

In the weeks ahead, we will break down the national average at the state level and take a closer look at who else is doing well (and who isn’t).

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Buckeye Institute concerned by April job losses, but sees signs of long-term recovery

COLUMBUS — Ohio’s free-market think tank found an encouraging sign in the state’s April jobs report released Friday morning. Although The Buckeye Institute’s Rea S. Hederman Jr. is concerned by the loss of 13,600 jobs, he said the new report shows continued record growth in labor force participation.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ latest employment report shows Ohio’s unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.2 percent in April from 5.1 percent in March. Labor force participation, however, increased to 63.5 percent from 63.3 percent, which suggests a strong recovery is underway, according to Hederman.

“Ohio’s April jobs report indicates that potential workers continue to enter the labor force to find work,” Hederman, The Buckeye Institute’s executive vice president and director of its Economic Research Center, said. “The bad news is new job opportunities did not grow as fast in April and the unemployment rate grew as a result.”

Over the last year, Ohio has surpassed the national average in terms of potential workers entering the labor force. The United States labor force participation has remained virtually flat at 62.8 percent and actually declined over the last month. By comparison, Ohio’s labor force has grown nearly 1 percent over the last year.

“Ohio does have a slightly higher unemployment rate than the national average, but that is because of the increase in the state’s labor force participation rate,” Hederman said. “Ohio’s tax cuts have generated growth and opportunity, but more needs to be done. Policymakers should look at Ohio’s regulations that can restrict opportunities for both businesses and workers.”

The April report shows the construction industry gained 900 jobs last month. Still, that increase did not make up for losses in manufacturing (-2,700) or business and professional services (-5,100). Jobs in real estate increased by 2,400 in April, making that sector the fastest-growing one over the last year, increasing by 9.7 percent.

Local government also declined by 6,100 jobs. Mining and logging continues to shed jobs, losing one out of every five jobs over the last month.

The Buckeye Institute analyzes Ohio’s unemployment rate to identify policy solutions for increasing job opportunities and strengthening the state economy.

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Founded in 1989, The Buckeye Institute is an independent research and educational institution – a think tank – whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.

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