Legislative Budget Office of the Legislative Service Commission
In March, the unemployment rate increased to a seasonally adjusted 5.5%, from 4.1% the
previous month, among the largest month-over-month increases in the nation. Between
February and March, a seasonally adjusted 97,000 persons exited the labor market in Ohio,
meaning they were no longer actively working or seeking work. Persons who are not in the labor
market are not counted as unemployed by the BLS. Chart 5 shows employment levels both
nationally and in Ohio; Chart 6 shows the unemployment rate both nationally and in Ohio.
According to the Department of Labor, approximately 61,000 initial unemployment claims
were processed in Ohio during the week ending May 2, 2020, down from more than 274,000 at
the peak five weeks earlier. Insured unemployment decreased by 8.6% in the week ended
April 25, from more than 777,000 the week before, by far the highest in the history of the series
dating from 1987.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently began publishing an experimental weekly data product,
Business Formation Statistics. The data are based on Employer Identification Number
applications to the IRS made in the United States. Data are filtered to eliminate those unlikely to
be associated with business formation, such as applications for tax liens, estates, trusts, private
households, or civic and social organizations. The latest survey indicates that 2,180 business
applications were filed in Ohio during the week ended May 2. For the YTD, the number of
applications was 4% lower than in the same period in 2019. The number of high propensity
applications, those identified as having a high chance of turning into businesses supporting
payroll, decreased by 6% YTD compared with a year earlier. Since mid-March, high propensity
applications were 18% lower than a year earlier after being up slightly earlier in the year.1
The number of existing home sales in March 2020 was 6.5% greater than during March
than a year prior. In the first quarter of 2020, the total dollar value of existing home sales in Ohio
was approximately $5.8 billion, compared with $4.9 billion during the first quarter of 2019.
019. The average sale price of existing homes was $199,445 during the month, 10.5% higher
The economy in the Cleveland Federal Reserve District contracted steeply in the latter
half of March, the result of COVID-19 and mitigation efforts, according to the Beige Book.20 By
the end of the survey period, most businesses reported cutting staff, hours, or both, often with
furloughs in hopes of increasing staffing when activity improves. Over half of firms expected
further near-term staffing cuts. Staffing was not cut in a few industries. Selling prices declined,
while consumer spending fell sharply due to social distancing. Manufacturing contacts reported
a decrease in demand and investment; the firms that noted an initial spike in demand due to the
COVID-19 response expected demand to drop off. Construction, both residential and
nonresidential, continues; however, demand is expected to weaken in the upcoming months.
19 High propensity businesses include corporations, businesses which indicate on applications they
intend to hire employees or have previously scheduled pay periods. Business applications in the following
NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) industrial categories are also included in the
definition of high propensity businesses: manufacturing (31-33), retail stores (44), health care (62),
restaurants/food service (72).
20 The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s district consists of all of Ohio, western Pennsylvania,
eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia. Comments here are derived from the
latest edition of the Beige Book, a Federal Reserve publication that summarizes reports from business and
industry contacts outside of the Federal Reserve System collected on or before April 6, 2020.
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