COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio's unemployment rate dropped slightly from May to June, and a similar result for July would complete a full year of month-to-month decreases in the jobless rate.
Seasonally adjusted joblessness in Ohio decreased from 7.3 percent in May to 7.2 percent in June, its lowest level since September 2008, the state Department of Job and Family Services said Friday. Compared with May's figures, the state's non-farm payrolls grew by 18,400.
Ohio was one of 11 states where unemployment rates dropped, while 27 others saw their rates rise in a reflection of weaker hiring nationwide.
"I would just point back to the fact that Ohio is adding jobs across a wide variety of sectors," Job and Family Services spokesman Benjamin Johnson said. "It shows that while it's happening slowly, the economy is definitely improving and we're seeing job growth."
The national unemployment rate held steady at 8.2 percent from May to June, expanding the gap between the Ohio and nationwide jobless figures to a full percentage point.
The numbers from the battleground state are drawing attention in the presidential campaign. The news is encouraging for residents and provides fodder for the argument that President Barack Obama's economic policies are working while challenging Republican candidate Mitt Romney as he tries to persuade Ohio voters that Obama has made things worse.
"He said he'd get the economy turned around. He hasn't," Romney told WTOL-TV during his visit to Ohio this week.
The release of the latest numbers Friday came a day after Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a friendly crowd at a Columbus labor union hall and credited Obama's job-creation efforts for boosting the manufacturing industry.
"Ohio is coming back. America is coming back," Biden said. "The middle class is coming back."
Manufacturing, which has helped drive economic recovery in the state, added 4,700 jobs for the month. That sector has gained 25,000 in total since June 2011, or about a quarter of the 100,000 jobs added in the state since then.
There was a noteworthy increase in June construction work, too.
"Construction, as you know, was battered by the recession and has been slow to recover, and so to see an increase of 3,500 jobs for construction is a good sign," Johnson said.
The state also added 5,900 jobs in leisure and hospitality -- an area where job growth is expected during the summer -- and 2,400 in trade, transportation and utilities, mostly in retail. Health care employment also increased after an unexpected dip last month in the usually steady sector, Johnson said.
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