Ohio’s unemployment rate took a step down in May, as businesses started to reopen after coronavirus-related closures.
During the month, 13.7% of the state’s workers were jobless, down from 17.6% in April, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Despite the pandemic, Ohio returned 127,100 workers to payrolls in May, bringing the state’s total workforce to 4.83 million.
But 788,000 Ohioans remained out of work in May, compared with 237,000 in May 2019, when Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.1%.
The state’s 13.7% rate in May was slightly higher than the U.S. rate of 13.3%. Jobs were added in almost all industries in Ohio during the month, including those hit hardest by pandemic-related shutdowns.
The state’s leisure and hospitality businesses, which were crushed by COVID-19, returned 36,600 jobs in May, while transportation and trade businesses added 31,400.
Another 19,200 jobs were restored in the construction industry, while manufacturing added 19,000 and education and health care added 17,000.
Government was the main area of employment that continued to bleed jobs, 23,300 of them, almost all in local government positions.
Despite the overall gains, employment across Ohio remains far below where it stood a year ago. More than 80,000 fewer Ohioans were employed in manufacturing in May compared to last May, for example.
The number of people employed in education and health services is down more than 90,000 from a year ago. The same is true for professional and business service jobs.
But by far the biggest area of job losses has been in the hotel and restaurant industries. Even though thousands of “leisure and hospitality” workers returned to work in May, the industry still employed more than 250,000 fewer Ohioans in May than it did a year ago.
According to figures released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, 32,788 Ohioans filed their initial unemployment claim last week, down from 35,430 the previous week.