Morning News: Cincinnati's economy at pre-recession job levels; raises for county employees coming; don't talk trash about Norwood

Greater Cincinnati area’s economy has surpassed its pre-recession job levels for the first time, putting Cincinnati ahead of the state’s overall job growth.

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click to enlarge Donald Trump speaks to supporters in West Chester - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Donald Trump speaks to supporters in West Chester

Hello Cincy. Here’s a quick news update.

First, a bit of good news: the Greater Cincinnati area’s economy has surpassed its pre-recession job levels for the first time, according to a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. That puts Cincinnati ahead of the state’s overall job growth — Ohio still hasn’t recovered all the jobs it lost during the recession. Jobs here, and across the state, plummeted in the years following the financial crisis, but have made a strong rebound in Cincinnati in the past seven years, growing by 2 percent last year. That matches the national job growth pace. The U.S. economy as a whole replaced the number of jobs it lost to the Great Recession in 2014.

• Employees of Hamilton County offices will be getting a pay boost soon, county officials say. The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners voted yesterday 3-0 to provide a 1.5 percent increase to the county’s 2,000 workers. That raise is part of a 3 percent boost first promised in January. But officials say the county couldn’t afford to give the raise all at once, so split it up into two parts. The coming pay bump, which will go into effect immediately, is the second installment.

• We should probably have a few beers to celebrate all this good news, eh? Turns out we’re in luck, because all of the state’s major craft brewers will be congregating in Cincinnati this winter. The Ohio Craft Brewers association has announced it will hold its third-annual conference here in Cincinnati Feb. 7-9 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Cincy beat out Cleveland and Akron for the right to host the event.

• Rick Green, we hardly knew ye. The current President of The Cincinnati Enquirer has been on the job all of year and a half, but is already on to other things. Green, a former Ohio journalist who transitioned to a number of other positions within the wide world of corporate media mega-giant Gannett, had his triumphant homecoming back in March 2015 when he came to Cincinnati after former Enquirer publisher Margaret Buchanan retired. But alas, it was short-lived, and how he's off to New Jersey to serve as Vice President of News for Gannett's newly-acquired North Jersey Media Group.

• A for-profit technical college active in the region has ceased accepting new student enrollments after a U.S. Education Department order barring it from enrolling students who rely on federal loans as payment. ITT Technical Institute, run by Indiana-based ITT Educational Services, Inc., has been barred from receiving U.S. Education Department loans as payment amid new Obama administration restrictions on for-profit colleges with low graduation and job placement rates. ITT can still accept students outside the so-called Title IV student loan program, but the majority of its students receive the federal aid. ITT runs a campus in Norwood. The college chain is being investigated in a dozen states for its educational offerings, financial details and job-placement rates.

• While we’re on the subject of Norwood: The city within Cincinnati’s city limits (yeah, it’s confusing) got hit hard by this weekend’s flash flooding. That led local pop radio station Q102 to make a fairly insensitive joke at the city’s expense, posting a photo of cars underwater with the meme-ish caption “Norwood: Another Reason We’re Not Hyde Park.” Ouch. The Norwood Police Department slapped back at the online insult, posting a statement on its Twitter page calling out the meme and observing that “a lot of good people, (sic) lost quite a bit last night.” Q102 has since apologized for the post, saying “You have come to expect Q102 to be a beacon of support in times of need in your community. This time, we missed the mark in our attempt at humor.” Endlessly playing Backstreet Boys and Katy Perry songs during times of distress is a hugely important role, and no one is perfect under the weight of such awesome responsibility. Even so, I think the good folks at the Norwood Tourism Board might also have something to say about this whole situation.

• GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump will make another visit to Southwestern Ohio Thursday, hitting up Wilmington for a campaign rally. The working class city has been hit hard by job losses, making it an appealing place for Trump to rally voters receptive to his message. His appearance will come after his already-scheduled speech at the American Legion Convention the same day here in Cincinnati.

• Finally, are Democrats starting to pull back on their push to support former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s Senate bid? Strickland has fallen behind incumbent U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, in recent polls. Now, the national Democratic Party is pausing big ad buys in Ohio supporting Strickland. The first of more than $10 million in TV ads boosting Strickland was scheduled to run in Ohio starting Sept. 13, but the first week of ad buys has been cancelled. Strickland’s campaign says the money from the Democratic National Committee has simply been re-routed to fund other ad campaigns that started last week. National Dems also say the change in ad funding represents a timing adjustment, not a shift in support for Strickland. But in a tight series of Senate races that will decide whether Democrats take back control of the chamber, every dollar counts, and it’s possible the party is hedging its bets as Strickland trails Portman.

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