By Karl Henkel
Northeast Ohio’s economy continues to outperform the rest of the nation, according to the latest Team Northeast Ohio quarterly report.
The Cleveland-based nonprofit detailed positive employment numbers during the second quarter for the 16-county “Cleveland Plus” region, which includes Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
“We’re seeing the needle move in the right direction, albeit slower than we’d hope,” said Nina Holliday, director of marketing for Team NEO.
Employment rose by 41,000 jobs — a 2 percent quarterly increase — and grew by nearly 25,000 jobs compared with 2010’s second quarter.
The unemployment rate of Northeast Ohio during the second quarter was 8.5 percent, besting Ohio’s average of 8.7 percent and the nationwide average of 8.9 percent.
It’s the fourth-consecutive quarter in which the Cleveland Plus region’s unemployment rate was lower than the national average.
Unemployment claims also decreased to their lowest level since November 2007, according to the report. Claims averaged 41,000, a year-over-year decrease of 25,000.
Construction jobs rose 3.5 per- cent, the biggest annual gain of any sector in the second quarter. Manufacturing rose 2 percent and services 1.2 percent. Government employment was relatively unchanged.
Cleveland-based economist George Zeller, who closely watches the employment figures of major metropolitan regions throughout the state, has trumpeted Youngstown as one area in Ohio with increased manufacturing growth — albeit slow — that has helped lead the area out of the trough of the recession.
Along with Akron and Cleveland, Youngstown has had some recent and anticipated success stories in the manufacturing sector, most notably the $650 million investment in the V&M Star project that will create about 350 jobs by its completion in 2012 and the success of the General Motors Lordstown plant, which accounts for 4,500 jobs in the Valley, plus the Parma plant, which supplements about one-fourth of the Cruze’s parts.
Parma employs an additional 1,500.
“As long as they’re selling Cruzes, that aspect will be fine,” Zeller said.
Second-quarter growth was still slow for an economic recovery, and the third-quarter report, due out this fall, may indicate a similar trend, but Team NEO officials are hopeful the brief dry spell is over.
“Rising fuel costs and debt issues at federal level all contributed some skepticism to the economy,” said Jacob Duritsky, Team NEO business director. “Hopefully now that it’s ironed out, we’ll hopefully see some more improvement.”
Cleveland Plus also includes Ashtabula, Carroll, Stark, Summit, Portage, Geauga, Lake, Cuyahoga, Medina, Wayne, Lorain, Ashland and Richland counties.
Team NEO uses Moody’s Economy.com data, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Ohio’s Labor Marketing Information to aggregate regional statistics.