Labor Day report issues urgent call for job creation

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by Policy Matters Ohio on August 31st, 2014
Contact: Amy Hanauer, 216.361.9801

Labor market participation was at a 34-year low in 2013, Ohio productivity grew by 66.9 percent between 1979 and 2013, and yet median hourly wages actually fell by 1.1 percent when adjusted for inflation. The State of Working Ohio 2014, embargoed for Sunday, August 31 at 12:01 a.m., issues an urgent call to solve the prolonged weak job market facing Ohio. “Workers are leaving the labor market, increased productivity and education is not bringing about meaningful wage growth, and inequality is staggering,” said Amy Hanauer, report author and executive director of the non-partisan policy research institute Policy Matters Ohio. The report found:

  • Poor job growth: Since 2005 when tax cuts were passed here promising job creation, Ohio lost more than 2.3 percent of its jobs while the nation added 3.8 percent. Policy has worsened the problem by cutting public jobs, slashing more than 7 percent of our local government positions.

  • Staggering inequality: In data new to this year’s report, we find that the bottom 99 percent of Ohioans, as a group, saw their incomes decline by 7 percent while the top 1 percent saw their incomes grow by 70 percent since 1979. Income of an average household in the top 1 percent is 18 times that of an average family in the bottom 99 percent.

  • Record low labor force participation: Labor force participation was lower than at any time since 1979 when we began tracking it, at just 62.9 percent. Male labor participation fell to an all-time low in 2013. Prime-age workers also continue to flee the labor market.

  • Low wages: Ohio’s median wage, just $15.81 per hour last year, was 90 cents below the national median wage and well below previous highs in Ohio in inflation-adjusted terms. In almost all of Ohio’s largest occupational categories, wages are too low to bring full-time workers above 150 percent of the stingy official 3-person poverty line.

“Ohio remains, in most ways that matter to middle-wage workers, far behind its best days,” Hanauer said. “This is a time to address our persistently weak labor market with job restoration and job creation, both of which could improve lives and communities in ways that reduce long-term costs and make our economy more productive and more efficient.”

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