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Ohio Better Off In This Recession Than Last One? Depends On Who You Ask.

Any local numbers geek will tell you that when the US goes into a recession and sheds jobs, Ohio tends to fare worse than pretty much everyone else. Team NEO's researcher Jacob Duritsky says take for example the 1980-1981 recession.

Jacob Duritsky: In terms of both employment and gross regional product, while the US declined by 2 and a half or 3 percent, NE Ohio was hit much harder. We declined by seven or eight percent.

Surprisingly, this was not the case when Duritsky looked at the current recession. Ohio's jobs numbers look more like the rest of the country.

Jacob Duritsky: We were tracking what the US was doing very closely, within about a percent or a percent and a half.

So yes, for numbers fans, the big news in Team NEO's study is that Ohio's jobs figures aren't as bad as usual. But, economics researcher George Zeller argues Ohio's recession didn't start in late 2007. Try seven years earlier. And when you look at it that way, the picture's not so rosy.

George Zeller: The recession that we are in now, here in the 2000's decade, in Cuyahoga County we lost more jobs than we lost (between)1979-1983. And that's what most people remember as real hard times.

In his study, Zeller found that Cuyahoga County lost nearly 55,000 jobs in the early 80s but more than 86,000 so far in the 2000s.

There are reasonable arguments from both sides on how to define when Ohio's recession started which frankly are kind of boring. But both Zeller and Duritsky agree that recent growth in Northeast Ohio's health services has helped the local job pool. Without those new jobs, both economists say, the region would be in much bigger trouble right now.