Ohio’s economy is on a constant rise, meaning its Rust Belt years could be coming to an end.
Business investments have nearly doubled in the past three years, the development of shale gas may add nearly $5 billion to the state’s gross national product by 2014, and the automotive industry is booming.
These improvements, along with an unemployment rate that has consistently been below the national average in the past year, are signs the state is shaking off the Rust Belt designation, reports the Columbus Dispatch
However, the rebound may be deceptive, say skeptics, who argue Ohio’s unemployment rate has only fallen because the labor market has gotten smaller. Wal-Mart is now Ohio’s largest employer, and does not pay the wages larger steel mills, coal mines, and other industrial jobs paid in the past.
Gov. John Kasich says he doesn’t care who gets the credit, but his administration points out he balanced the state budget without tax increases and aggressively persuaded security-services firm Diebold and American Greeting Cards to stay in Ohio.
Meanwhile, only California and Texas manufacture more products than Ohio, which makes 20 percent of the vehicles built in the United States. Ohio’s top exports are now computers, aircraft, cars, machinery, planes, plastics, and electrical machinery.
Investments are also growing. The Ohio Department of Development, reports 29 companies invested more than $50 million each last year. The automakers were among the substantial investors, but other companies, including Diebold and Fed Ex, also engaged in capital spending.
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