COLUMBUS, Ohio – Winning Ohio in 2008 helped him win the White House, but the news Friday that the Buckeye State’s unemployment rate now stands at 10.9 percent while recent figures show more people are being driven into poverty may not win President Barack Obama much of a warm welcome in a state still chilled by winter temperatures, whose prospects for an economic turn around anytime soon are subdued at best and down right scary at worst.
Obama will visit Lorain County Community College near Cleveland today, probably accompanied by Ohio junior Sen. Sherrod Brown, who outlined his priorities for job creation in a conference call with Ohio media yesterday.
Ohio unemployment rate higher
News released from Ohio’s Dept. of Job and Family Services Friday showed job losses in the services segment has not raised the state’s unemployment rate from 10.6 percent in November to 10.9 percent a month later, which when added to the loss of over 300,000 jobs during Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s first three years on the job, is just more salt in its already gaping wounds. Ohio’s jobless rate is worse than the national rate of 10 percent.
Poverty rates for Ohio cities, suburbs up
If you’re jobless in Ohio, you may be ripe to enter the growing ranks of Ohio’s poor, as U.S. Census Bureau statistics analyzed by the Brookings Institutiion showed this past Wednesday. In its report of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, Midwestern cities and suburbs led the nation in increased poverty rates over the period between 2000 and 2008, driven by “troubles in the automobile manufacturing industry,” according to published reports on the study showing residents living below the poverty level – $21,834 for a family of four – rose 25 percent to about 12.5 million.
For Ohio, poverty in the state’s capital, Columbus, spiked past the major metros’ average to hit 20.1 percent. The 2008 poverty rate in Cleveland and suburbs is 30.5 and 9.1 percent, respectively; for Cincinnati, these figures are 25.1 and 9.1 percent; for Dayton, 29.2 and 9.5 percent; for Toledo, 24.7 and 8.9 percent; for Youngstown, 33.5 and 13.6 percent.
Brown offers ways to revititalize U.S, Ohio manufacturing
While Sen. Sherrod Brown wasn’t sure yesterday whether he would be with Obama while in Ohio, he was sure of what he says is needed to to create jobs and help Ohioans rejoin the workforce. Speaking with reporters, Brown listed his five suggestions: 1) Unfreezing the credit market for small business and manufacturers, 2) helping small and mid-sized manufacturers (particularly former auto suppliers and auto component manufacturers – Ohio’s largest industry) retool for the clean energy economy, 3) fostering entrepreneurialism and the creation of new jobs through business incubators, 4) preparing the workforce for new jobs through tailored, regional workforce development programs; and 5) enforcement of trade laws to invest in domestic manufacturing and production.
In prepared remarks, Brown said that since the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Ohio ranks first in the nation in clean energy jobs created out of federal recovery investments. He noted that BASF Catalysts LLC based in Elyria received $24.6 million in federal funds to spur new jobs and economic growth through their proposal to create the largest advanced energy lithium ion battery production facility in North America. The award, allocated through the U.S. Department of Energy’s grant program, represents, he said, a share of the single largest investment in advanced battery technology.
Was Ohio stiffed by White House on stabilization funds?
“Our top priority is creating jobs, and I’m glad President Obama is bringing his Main Street tour to Ohio. For decades, our state has been home to large-scale manufacturers and cutting-edge entrepreneurs. With the right priorities in Washington, we can create new jobs by helping small businesses expand operations and manufacturers retool for the clean energy economy,” Brown said.
But Obama may not have the red carpet rolled out for him, according to a report the Business Journal Daily, which said Mahoning Valley leaders are miffed at the rejection by the White House Office of Urban Affairs and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development of the region’s application for $32.4 million in neighborhood stabilization funds. The application was not among the $2 billion in requests announced for funding last week, according to BJD reporter George Nelson..
Nelson reported that Brown said he is disappointed that the “critical funds” would not be going to Youngstown, but is working with Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and Mahoning Valley stakeholders “to build on the collaborative effort proposed by Youngstown.”
As Ohio enters the 2010 mid-term election year, one in which voters will either re-enlist Strickland for a second term or give the keys to the governor’s mansion to John Kasich, a Republican who says the high cost of doing business in Ohio has driven business away, Ohio voters will have to decide whether they want to continue to tailgate the national economy and maintain government’s current structure or whether they want a firebrand who sees radically restructuring state government as a necessary shortcut to better times.
Whom ever emerges the victor in November will be saddled with a monumental task, one made that much harder to acheive by strident, partisan political camps who will mount ferocious battleground campaigns that may leave the next winner a loser by the time they are sworn into office.
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