Downtown Cleveland skyline bridge
Supporters of a non-police care response program in Cleveland have formed a coalition Care for CLE. Credit: Jeff Haynes / Signal Cleveland

Ohio had the second largest job gain in the United States in April, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The Buckeye State gained 18,100 jobs last month. The ample job growth contributed to the 3.7% unemployment rate, the lowest on record. BLS began its current method of tracking jobless rates in each state in 1976. The U.S. jobless rate was 3.4% in April.

Only California, where employment increased by 67,000, gained more jobs. New Jersey was third with a 15,800 job gain.

Ohio ranked not only for the increase in the number of jobs, but also for the percentage of the increase. The gain represented a 0.3% increase over March. This ranked Ohio third nationally for the percentage increase in jobs. Indiana saw a 0.5% increase. Arizona, California and New Jersey each had a 0.4% job gain.  

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported Friday that several job sectors and industries contributed to the jump in employment in April. They included leisure and hospitality, which saw a 6,200 jump in jobs. The category of professional and business services was up by 3,400 jobs, and employment in private educational and health services increased by 2,800. Goods-producing industries increased by 2,500. Included in the grouping are construction, which increased by 1,600 jobs, and manufacturing, which saw a 700 job gain.

Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal Cleveland-based think tank, described April’s job growth as “a tremendous one-month increase.” Sometimes the unemployment rate drops because the labor force, which is composed of the employed and those actively seeking work, shrinks. But this doesn’t account for Ohio’s latest job gains, according to the organization. 

 “Preliminary data also suggest that Ohio’s improved unemployment rate over the last 12 months has been driven by increased employment rather than a decline in the labor force,” states a Policy Matters news release.

Still, the organization’s executive director, Hannah Halbert, expressed concern that the labor force is smaller now than in early 2020, when the pandemic began. She said 139,000 people are missing from Ohio’s 5.6 million-person labor force.

“People stop working or looking for work for many reasons,” Halbert said in the release. “People could be retiring, seeking skills and education, family care demand may prevent work, or they could also be unable to continue working due to health and ability changes. Also, they simply could be struggling to find work where they live.” 

Friday’s jobs report is the second recent bit of good news about job growth in Ohio. In March, Greater Cleveland nationally had the second largest unemployment rate decrease in the nation among large metro areas.

The story has been updated to include comments from Policy Matters Ohio.

Economics Reporter (she/her)
Olivera, an award-winning journalist, covered labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer. She broke the story in 2013 of a food drive held for Walmart workers who made too little to afford Thanksgiving dinner. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Olivera believes the sweet spot of high-impact journalism is combining strong storytelling with data analysis.