By Marc Kovac
Ohio added 65,000-plus more jobs to its work force since 2011 than initially reported, according to updated employment statistics released Friday by state and federal officials.
The total includes 51,000 jobs in 2013, 75,800 in '12 and 81,800 in '11, up from earlier projections of 25,600 in '13, 40,300 in '12 and 77,600 in '11, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
The new numbers are the result of an annual revision that takes place each February, with tax filings and other information taken into account to create a more accurate picture of actual work force trends over the past five years.
Bruce Madson, assistant director for employment services at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, compared the process to pre-election polling and post-election results -- the former generally offers a close estimation, but the latter better reflects reality.
Madson said the updated statistics show Ohio has experienced more steady job creation over the past three years than earlier results indicated.
"What we're seeing is a consistent increase in employment that is fairly consistent through '11, '12 and '13," he said. "It's been a steady, slow increase in jobs throughout the entire process without any real variations."
ODJFS Spokesman Ben Johnson added, "We saw the largest job growth in 2011, slightly smaller in 2012 and slightly smaller in 2013."
The updated statistics were released Friday, along with unemployment claims for January. For the month, the state rate was 6.9 percent, down from 7.1 percent in December and 7.3 percent in January 2013.
The national unemployment rate for January was 6.6 percent, down from 6.7 percent in December and 7.9 percent a year earlier.
Gov. John Kasich said the results are further evidence that Republican policies are working.
"My hat is off to the hardworking men and women of our state and to the small businesses and entrepreneurs who are the engines of job creation," Kasich said in a released statement. "There's certainly more work to do, but by tearing down barriers to job growth, our jobs-friendly policies are helping Ohioans unleash their natural energy, creativity and work ethic, and they're lifting up our state."
But Democrats say the updated statistics also show higher unemployment rates than were initially reported and are proof that GOP-backed policy changes have stifled economic growth.
"The new numbers show that the economy was much harder on working and middle class Ohioans over the past two years than what Gov. Kasich was saying at the time," House Democratic Leader Tracy Heard (D-Columbus) said in a released statement. "The fact remains, if you're wealthy and well-connected, Gov. Kasich's top-down economy is working (for) you. But, if you're working and middle class it's harder to get ahead under economic policies targeted at the wealthiest Ohioans."