Unemployment in Greater Cincinnati at 17-year low; more news

At 3.5 percent, the unemployment rate in Greater Cincinnati is almost a percentage point lower than Ohio's as a whole and the lowest it has been since May, 2001.

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click to enlarge Cincinnati - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati

Hello Cincy! Stuff happened yesterday. Let’s talk about it.

Cincinnati’s Emergency Communications Center will get more money to address long-running issues with staffing and technology after the tragic death of Kyle Plush, the 16-year-old who suffocated in his van after calling 911 twice. City council voted yesterday to appropriate more than $450,000 for the 911 center. That money will come from funds associated with the city’s Building and Inspections department and will be used to update the city’s computer aided dispatch system and hire 11 new staffers at the center.

• A report on the Cincinnati Police Department’s investigation into Plush’s death will come sometime next week, possibly as soon as Monday, Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman said yesterday. One area of focus for that investigation — why CPD officers didn’t get out of their police cruiser when responding to Plush’s initial 911 call. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #69 President Dan Hils has defended officers Brian Brazile and Edsel Osborn, saying they were not given information about the urgency of Plush’s call and thought they were responding to a routine call about malfunctioning door locks. Body camera footage from the officers runs about three minutes long and shows them circling a different parking lot at Seven Hills School than the one Plush was in.

• Supporters of white nationalist Richard Spencer are abandoning a lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati over a $10,000 security fee Spencer would have had to pay to speak at the school. According to a statement from UC, that means Spencer, an organizer of last year’s deadly “Unite the Right” event, isn’t coming at all. You can read more in our story here.

• So is an outdoor concert venue still coming to riverfront development The Banks? *Shakes magic 8-Ball* It’s unclear. The Joint Banks Steering Committee met yesterday to mull three bids for the site it solicited in January, and according to this story by WCPO, the frontrunner is an indoor-only venue proposed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. That’s a non-starter with Mayor John Cranley and some investors, who say the riverside site needs an outdoor component. Cranley has his own favorite among the bids. PromoWest, the Columbus events company that produces the Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati, has for years said it would like to privately finance an outdoor concert venue on the site. The other bidder, Live Nation, wants to build a facility there as well, but would like the city and county to kick in $37 million toward the project. Cranley says that public money for the project is a no-go. Critics of the CSO’s bid also say that the venue wouldn’t draw nearly as much revenue as a larger indoor/outdoor venue at The Banks.

Another note of interest about that meeting, by the way — the steering committee is a public body composed of officials appointed by Cincinnati and Hamilton County. But its meeting yesterday was private. The committee says that’s standard and legal when conducting information-gathering sessions about sensitive development deals, but the closed-door meeting has raised some eyebrows, especially considering the fact that the committee has only met twice in public since 2015.

• Elected officials could start coming to meetings packing heat in Monroe. City council members there are considering an ordinance that would allow elected officials with concealed carry permits to have their weapons during meetings. Monroe City Councilman Todd Hickman is pushing that legislation after the deadly mass school shooting Parkland, Fla. Hickman, who has made the news in the past for proposing a ban on Confederate flags in Monroe, is a graduate of Madison High School, which just voted to allow teachers to carry firearms after a 2016 school shooting there.

• Here’s some good news: the unemployment rate in Greater Cincinnati is the lowest it has been since 2001, according to data from Ohio Job and Family Services. The rate in the 15-county area around Cincinnati stands at 3.5 percent. That’s better than Ohio’s 4.3 percent unemployment rate, where Cincinnati was a year ago. The number of people finding employment is higher than the number entering the workforce, meaning that wages in some sectors should start to rise, economists say. That’d be a welcome reversal of a long-running trend: nationally and in Ohio, pay has been stagnant in the years since the Great Recession.

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