Cleveland is the butt of so many jokes that sometimes I am careful when people ask me where I grew up. But when I was visiting my family over Easter weekend, I learned something about my home state of Ohio that gives me something to cheer about.
The Ohio economy—specifically the job market—is doing much better than most of the country.
I didn’t believe it when my brother-in- law told me that Ohio’s unemployment rate is below the US average. I checked Google right there at the dinner table, and to my surprise he was right: seven percent versus 7.7 percent for the country as a whole. In fact, all of Ohio’s 88 counties posted lower rates in February, and some of them have jobless rates as low as five percent!
What’s going on?
Ohio is home to many manufacturing companies. During the financial and economic crisis over the past few years there were lots of headlines about plant closings and layoffs. Now many of those manufacturers, like steel mills, are adding to production. Construction is another bright spot. The CEO of Sherwin-Williams, the big paint company, told analysts recently that his company expects to book record profits this year, not because of price increases, but thanks to strong sales. And Ohio is also benefiting from an economic boom in the shale oil businesses.
So, hip hip hooray for Cleveland and the rest of Ohio.
Now, if only the Cleveland Indians can score this season. They open tonight in Toronto. I’ll be rooting for them.