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JobsOhio must be held accountable

Bureaucracy, once-created, is difficult to tear back down.

In the case of “public/private” bureaucracy, the challenges are even greater. It is no surprise, then, that even by its own metrics, JobsOhio has spent much of its existence growing … itself. According to the Ohio Capital Journal, the agency had 106 employees last year, with an average annual pay and benefits package of $180,000.

Though that money does not technically come out of taxpayers’ pockets, JobsOhio is funded through a 24-year “lease” of the state liquor monopoly.

The Capital Journal explained it this way, “So while the non-profit corporation claims it’s ‘wholly funded by an independent private source,’ it’s talking about revenue that went into the state treasury before it was created. Presumably, taxpayers have had to pick up at least part of the tab in its absence.”

Meanwhile, using its own criteria, and based on JobsOhio’s own analysis, the state’s performance is merely middle-of-the-road when compared with West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The agency has spent $1 billion since 2015, but lost or failed to gain market share in four of the 10 sectors studied.

“Based on extrapolated data for year-end 2021, Ohio ranks approximately 21st among all states in job growth based on the 2011-2021 time period in the 10 sectors where we focus,” a JobsOhio spokesperson told the Capital Journal.

That’s right, the agency wants to choose only 10 job sectors on which it can be judged, and even at that, the success rate is unimpressive.

By the way, U.S. News and World Report ranks Ohio’s economy 34th in the nation.

“Given Ohio’s subpar performance in job, income and economic growth over the past decade, JobsOhio clearly hasn’t done the job,” Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters Ohio, told the Capital Journal. “We were told when JobsOhio was created that economic development needed to be done in secrecy to be successful. That hasn’t worked.”

Well, it’s worked if you ask the 106 people whose salary and benefits come out to an average $180,000 a year, while the average individual in the Buckeye State is making a little more than $31,000.

Lawmakers are going to have to keep a close eye on this “privately” funded bureaucracy. There is still the potential for success, but if JobsOhio doesn’t do a better job of serving the state, rather than itself, it must be held accountable.

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