If Ohio is Really "The Heart of It All," Boy Do We Got Problems…


Given that this is the release week of Reason Saves Cleveland With Drew Carey at Reason.tv, it's worth thinking a bit more about the larger situation in Ohio, whose license plates once boasted that the Buckeye State was "the heart of it all."

Here's word from the Buckeye Institute, an excellent free-market think tank in Columbus, on "the state of the state." The snippet view:

In nineteen years, Ohio's job market only created a net 176,100 new jobs, or just over 9,000 jobs per year. That weak job growth means limited opportunities for you, your family, and your friends. Limited opportunity makes it hard for you to get ahead and attain the American Dream.

As the job market weakened, the taxes and fees you pay to government at all levels rose making your state and local tax burden the 7th highest in the United States. The tax climate for businesses in Ohio is the 47th worst in America.

One of the drivers of our high tax burden is the ever-increasing gold-plated compensation of government workers in Ohio. In the same period of time that Ohio only added 176,100 private-sector jobs, it added 75,100 government jobs.

Today, federal workers in Ohio make significantly more than their private-sector neighbors in 87 out of 88 counties; state workers make much more than their private-sector neighbors in 85 out of 88 counties; and local workers make more than their private-sector neighbors in 57 out of 88 counties.

Read more here.

And what about Cleveland, the star of our series and "the most miserable city" in America according to Forbes?

The greater Cleveland area economy is suffering, although it is faring better than average compared to rural Ohio. Cuyahoga County leads the state in population loss with nearly an 8 percent decrease in citizens since 2000. While some of this loss can be attributed to people moving to the suburbs, the decline in jobs is the driving force in the population loss. Between 2000 and 2008, total employment in Cuyahoga County dropped by over 83,000, with the private sector losing over 11 percent of its jobs.

Even though Cuyahoga County's surrounding counties all experienced slight population growth, three of the six counties lost private-sector jobs (Lake County, Portage County, and Lorain County). Surprisingly, however, the number of government jobs increased for all of Cuyahoga County's surrounding counties.

The cost of government in the Cleveland area is hindering the region from economic growth. As previously mentioned, the government is creating more jobs, which are funded by the taxpayers. In Portage County, government sector jobs increased 11.2 percent while private-sector jobs decreased by 2.7 percent between 2000 and 2008. In all seven Cleveland-area counties, average government employees at the federal, state, and local levels all earn more wages than that of the average private-sector worker. For example, the average private-sector worker in Lorain County making $35,647.04 must support the average federal government employee making $97,884.80 per year.

Read more here.

I read recently that in the '00s, the only state with worse job creation than Ohio was Michigan, which sounds about right. If these two former midwestern tigers are the leading edge of American economic developments, well, it was nice knowing you all. Don't bother turning out the lights, they'll run down by themselves.