A week after learning Ohio’s unemployment rate had ticked up in July, a new report by a progressive group shows Ohio's job picture getting worse. But the Kasich team dismisses the report and a self-imploding Ed FitzGerald campaign has been unable to capitalize on it.
Innovation Ohio released the study this morning showing that for the first time since 2007, Ohio now has more lower wage jobs than higher.
"As a share of the state's economy, high and medium wage jobs dropped from 72% in 2007 to just 64% in 2013," said Keary McCarthy, president of Innovation Ohio. "Low wage jobs grew from 28% to 36% during that period."
The report also shows low-paying jobs account for virtually all Ohio job growth during the recovery.
“All the data publicly available says Ohio led the nation in job losses last month, is still 140,000 jobs below where we were prior to the recession, and that virtually all the job growth under the Kasich administration has been low-wage,” said Dale Butland, communications director for Innovation Ohio.
But Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols dismissed the report as nothing more than a partisan attack.
“What shred of credibility do these people have to lecture anyone about job creation,” said Nichols. “When their people and their policies were in place in Ohio, the state bled out 400,000 jobs and our economy was a raging dumpster fire. Under governor Kasich, Ohioans have created nearly a quarter million private sector jobs, and the unemployment rate is half a percentage below the national average.”
While Ohio’s jobless rate remains below the national average, it did rise in July to 5.7 percent. The state lost 12,400 jobs and the number of unemployed in the state now is 323,000.
But because of FitzGerald's troubled campaign the debate over jobs is getting lost with just 75 days to go until the election.
FitzGerald's campaign manager Nick Buis and communications director Daniel McElhatton left the campaign on Monday.
Consultants Aaron Pickrell and Louis Capobianco, both close to former governor Ted Strickland, also left.
"The first things voters look for is basic competence, trustworthiness, and leadership," said Katie Eagan, political director at the Ohio Republican Party. "Those are the issues that are being discussed right now because Ed FitzGerald has failed these most basic first tests."
Republicans say they're ready to defend Kasich's record on jobs and the economy, one they call significantly better than the Strickland administration, but they haven't had to engage in the debate due to continuing self-inflicted issues by FitzGerald.
First, he chose a running-mate who owed nearly a million dollars in back taxes. State senator Eric Kearney would later leave the ticket.
Then news broke that two years ago FitzGerald had been questioned by police while in parked in a car with a woman who was not his wife at 4:30 in the morning.
Following that it was revealed FitzGerald had not had a permanent drivers’ license for a decade. During that same time, eight of FitzGerald's employees had been reprimanded for not having a license.
"If you can't trust someone to get his driver's license for ten years, even as he is punishing those who work for him that have the same violations, you certainly aren't going to trust him to run a state," said Eagan.
Dale Butland, Innovation Ohio's communication director, says in the end voters will care more about issues like the economy and less about FitzGerald's troubles.
"Last month, Ohio led the nation in job losses," said Butland. "Ohio's job creation rate ranks 41st. and has lagged the national average for 20 straight months.”
But Independents like Sam Gresham from Common Cause say FitzGerald's problems prevent a real debate on issues.
"There is no excuse, and there is no way to talk this away," said Gresham. "You reap what you sow. The things he did to those employees magnifies now because he didn't have a driver's license. The sad part of this campaign is that we're not talking about other issues, but that's his fault. That's nobody else's fault."
Republicans now equate FitzGerald's campaign to that of failed US senate hopeful Lee Fisher in 2010. Fisher that year trailed Rob Portman in both the polls and fundraising.
"The problem that Fitzgerald has is the only thing that is being written about the gubernatorial campaign right now is how his campaign is going down the tubes," said Republican strategist Bob Clegg. "You can try to swing it back to issues but that takes money to talk about the issues on TV. Since he doesn't have much in campaign dollars, that's an option he can't take."