We now have preliminary Columbus MSA employment numbers for May and they are surprisingly good. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, jobs in the region increased 2,300 (0.25 percent) from April. The national job total decreased by exactly the same 0.25 percent, but this was the smallest national job decline since last September. The largest local gains were registered by professional and business services, which has been a little soft lately but gained 2,300 jobs in May, and private education and healthcare (up 1,600). Government and manufacturing lost 800 jobs each and retail lost 700. Other sectors showed modest changes up or down of 100 to 300 jobs each. Since the recession began, the local area has lost 19,000 jobs (2.0 percent), much less than the national loss of 4.3 percent and Ohio’s 5.3 percent.
The May regional unemployment rate was a seasonally-adjusted 8.5 percent, nearly a percentage point lower than the U.S. rate of 9.4 percent. These two rates were essentially equal in January. The Ohio rate, meanwhile, was 10.8 percent.
Before we get too excited, it is important to remember that these employment totals are preliminary and will be revised next month. But it is clear that the Columbus region continues to fare far better than elsewhere in this recession.