Ohio's unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent last year, the lowest level since 2008, and the state's economy continues to recover at a faster rate than the national average, according to revised estimates released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Fewer Ohioans were unemployed in 2012 than in the three previous years, and more residents had jobs, the data show. Only three states saw a larger drop in the unemployment rate between 2011 and 2012. Ohio's labor force, however, continued to shrink.
"This confirms that Ohio's economy is getting better and the job market is improving," said Benjamin Johnson, spokesman with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. "While the economy has significantly improved since the depths of the recession, there are certainly still many Ohioans who are working for work."
Ohio's unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent in 2012, down from 8.6 percent in 2011 and 10 percent in 2010. It was the lowest unemployment rate since 2008, when it was at 6.6 percent.
The 1.4 percent decline in Ohio's unemployment rate between 2011 and 2012 was larger than all but three other states: North Carolina (-2.1 percent), Florida (-1.7 percent) and Missouri (-1.5 percent).
In 2012, about 413,023 Ohioans on average were unemployed each month, which was down 88,602 workers from 2011 and 173,801 workers from 2010, the data show.
In addition, employment in Ohio grew to about 5.33 million workers in 2012 from 5.30 million in 2011. The number of Ohioans with jobs was at the highest point since 2008.
Ohio's workforce continues to contract, and about 5.74 million Ohioans were working or actively looking for work last year. It was a decrease of about 60,000 workers from 2011.
Some workers who cannot find a job become discouraged and exit the labor force. Others quit because they reach retirement.
Overall, the unemployment, employment and labor force figures indicate that Ohio's economy is recovering and adding jobs, Johnson said.
"At its peak during the recession, Ohio's unemployment rate was higher than the national average," he said. "Now the state's unemployment rate has been below the national average for some time, which indicates the state's economy has improved faster than some other states."
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