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Guhan Venkatu and Mary DeStefano

CINCINNATI, OHIO MSA | AUGUST 2018

Cincinnati—Positive Conditions Continue

As of April 2018, the Cincinnati metro area’s unemployment rate was more than half a percentage point lower than the rate was in April 2017. The
unemployment rates registered to this point in 2018 have been the lowest the metro area has seen since 2001. In 2017, employment in the metro area
grew 1.4 percent. Employment gains were broad based, with most major sectors seeing increases. Per capita GDP grew roughly 2.5 percent in the
Cincinnati metro area in 2016 after being adjusted for inflation; this gain was notably stronger than the gains registered in Ohio or the United States
during the same period. Finally, while per capita consumer debt levels have drifted down slightly, credit card delinquency rates have drifted up slightly.

METRO AREA SNAPSHOT
Unemployment Rate
April
2018

One-year
change

Median Home Value

Payroll Employment

Credit Card
Delinquency Rate

One-year
change

December
2017

One-year
change

2018:Q1

One-year
change

(percent)

(percentage points)

(percent)

(percentage points)

April
2018

Cincinnati

3.7

–0.6

$158,800

6.1

1,044

1.4

6.5

0.4

Ohio

4.3

–0.8

$131,900

6.6

5,378

0.8

7.0

0.3

United States

3.9

–0.5

$215,100

8.5

144,800

1.5

7.3

0.2

Apart from a slight increase in April 2018, the Cincinnati metro area’s
unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 2001.
Percent
12
10

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

8
6

■ Recession

4
2
0
2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

2018

(percent)

(thousands)

(percent)

 UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

The Cincinnati metro area’s unemployment rate increased slightly in April
(0.1 percentage points) to 3.7 percent. Nevertheless, the rate is more than
half a percentage point below where it was in April 2017, and the rate remains
low by historical standards. For example, apart from recent readings in 2018,
the last time the area’s unemployment rate was this low was in 2001—nearly
17 years ago. Moreover, the April unemployment rate is more than a full
percentage point below the lowest rate registered during the previous
economic expansion (4.8 percent). These data are consistent with anecdotal
accounts from firms in the area, which report increasing difficulty finding
qualified workers to take available positions.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/Haver Analytics.

Adjusted for inflation, per capita GDP grew roughly 2.5 percent in the
Cincinnati metro area in 2016.
Index, 2007=100
110
105

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

100

■ Recession
95
90
2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis/Haver Analytics.

2016

 GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT

Adjusted for inflation, per capita GDP grew roughly 2.5 percent in the
Cincinnati metro area in 2016. This growth was notably stronger than
the growth registered in Ohio and the United States during the same period,
0.7 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively. The increase was also slightly
stronger than the roughly 2 percent increase the metro area achieved in 2015.
Through the expansion to this point—2009 to 2016—inflation-adjusted
per capita GDP in the Cincinnati metro area has grown about 1.7 percent
annually, roughly halfway between the state’s growth (1.3 percent) and the
nation’s growth (2.1 percent).

CINCINNATI, OHIO MSA

FOURTH DISTRICT METRO MIX
Y O U R D I S T R I C T, Y O U R D A T A

AUGUST 2018

As of December 2017, employment in the Cincinnati metro area grew
1.4 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Index, 2007:M12=100
108
106

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

104
102
100

■ Recession

98
96
94
92
2007

2009

2011

2013

2015

2017

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

Leisure and hospitality and construction were the Cincinnati metro area’s
strongest growing employment sectors in 2017.
Leisure and hospitality
Construction
Trade, transportation, and utilities
Education and health services
Financial activities

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

Manufacturing
Government

EMPLOYMENT AND INDUSTRIAL SECTORS
 EMPLOYMENT

As of December 2017, employment in the Cincinnati metro area grew
1.4 percent on a year-over-year basis. That change was close to the 1.5 percent
increase in employment experienced nationally. By contrast, employment
in Ohio grew a more modest 0.8 percent. Despite the recent divergence,
employment growth in the Cincinnati metro area has tended to be similar to
the gains posted statewide, about 1.1 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively.
National employment gains have been stronger, with employment increasing
at an annual rate of 1.5 percent during the expansion. As a result, though
the Cincinnati metro area and the United States saw similar declines in
employment in percentage terms during the Great Recession, employment
in the United States was about 7 percent higher in December 2017 than it
was in December 2007, while employment in the Cincinnati metro area was
about 3 percent higher in December 2017 than it was in December 2007.

 EMPLOYMENT GROWTH BY SECTOR

In 2017, the Cincinnati metro area saw stronger employment gains
(in percentage terms) than did Ohio in all major employment sectors
except construction and professional and business services. Employment
growth in the metro area was strongest in leisure and hospitality,
which grew 3.4 percent, and construction, which grew 3.3 percent.
Employment in the metro area’s largest sector—trade, transportation,
and utilities—increased 2.4 percent. In contrast, professional and
business services saw employment decline by 1.2 percent. Because this
sector is one of the larger sectors in the Cincinnati metro area in terms of
employment and because this sector tends to generate higher wages than
other sectors, this is a development worth watching.

Professional and business services

		 –2

–1

0
1
2
3
4
Year-over-year percent change
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
The following sectors were imputed due to missing data: financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and construction.

Total employment in the Cincinnati metro area increased by more than
14,500 jobs in 2017.
Employment

12-month
change

Share of
employment

Trade, transportation, and utilities

214,533

5,003

20.4

Education and health services

163,425

3,293

15.5

Professional and business services

160,312

–1,900

15.2

Leisure and hospitality

119,653

3,925

11.4

Government

119,126

825

11.3

Manufacturing

116,580

1,466

11.1

Financial activities

67,715

1,288

6.4

Construction

44,579

1,406

4.2

Sector

 SECTOR EMPLOYMENT

Just as total employment increased in the Cincinnati metro area from
December 2016 to December 2017, employment levels have increased
across all major employment sectors except the professional and business
services sector. Total employment in the metro area increased by more
than 14,500 jobs in 2017. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector was
the greatest contributor to the increase in total employment, accounting
for about a third of the metro area’s employment gains. The leisure and
hospitality sector, which constitutes about 11 percent of the metro area’s
total employment, made the second-greatest contribution to the increase
in employment (26.9 percent). Together, the trade, transportation, and
utilities sector; the leisure and hospitality sector; and the education and
health services sector contributed 83.9 percent of the increase in the
area’s employment from December 2016 to December 2017.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
The following sectors were imputed due to missing data: financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and construction.
FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of CLEVELAND

CINCINNATI, OHIO MSA

FOURTH DISTRICT METRO MIX
Y O U R D I S T R I C T, Y O U R D A T A

AUGUST 2018

INCOME
After accelerating in 2015, per capita income growth in the Cincinnati
metro area slowed in 2016.
 I NCOME PER CAPITA

Thousands of dollars
52

	
After accelerating in 2015, per capita income growth in the Cincinnati

50

46

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

44

■ Recession

48

42
40
38
2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

metro area slowed in 2016. Ohio and the nation as a whole saw weaker
income growth, as well. In 2015, per capita income grew robustly in
the metro area (3.8 percent), the state (3.7 percent), and the nation
(4.1 percent); however, in 2016, growth slowed substantially in the metro
area (0.6 percent), the state (0.5 percent), and the nation (0.3 percent).
Between 2009—when the expansion began—and 2016, annual growth in
per capita income has been almost identical across the three geographies:
1.2 percent in the metro area, 1.3 percent in Ohio, and 1.2 percent in
the United States.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis/Haver Analytics.

CONSUMER FINANCES
Per capita consumer debt levels have drifted down slightly in the
Cincinnati metro area since early in 2017.
 C ONSUMER DEBT

Thousands of dollars, 4-quarter moving average
55
50

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

45
40

■ Recession

35
30
25
2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

Per capita consumer debt levels have drifted down slightly in the
Cincinnati metro area since early in 2017. In the four quarters ending
in March 2018, debt levels fell about 1 percent. By contrast, per
capita consumer debt levels rose slightly in both Ohio and the United
States during the same period. In the nation, the increase approached
approximately 2 percent. Nevertheless, debt levels across the three
geographies remain low. Relative to levels at the end of the recession
( June 2009), per capita consumer debt levels are about 22.5 percent
lower in the metro area, 22.3 percent lower in the state, and 21.2 percent
lower in the nation.

2018

Source: Authors’ calculations from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s
Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax.

Between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2018,
credit card delinquency rates rose half a percentage point in the
Cincinnati metro area.
Percent of credit card balances delinquent, 4-quarter moving average
14
12
— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

10
8
6

■ Recession

4
2
0
2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

2018

Source: Authors’ calculations from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s
Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax.

 C REDIT CARD DELINQUENCY RATE

Credit card delinquency rates have drifted up slightly since the end of 2016.
From the fourth quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2018, the rate rose
half a percentage point in the Cincinnati metro area (from 6.0 percent to
6.5 percent). Delinquency rates have also drifted up, albeit more modestly,
in Ohio and the United States during the same period. Still, credit card
delinquency rates remain far lower than the highs reached in the early phase
of the current economic expansion, when households were still recovering
from the Great Recession. Specifically, the most recent readings for the
Cincinnati metro area and Ohio are 2.9 percentage points and 2.5 percentage
points lower, respectively, than the highs recorded in the fourth quarter of
2010; for the United States, the difference during the same time period is
5.5 percentage points.

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of CLEVELAND

CINCINNATI, OHIO MSA

FOURTH DISTRICT METRO MIX
Y O U R D I S T R I C T, Y O U R D A T A

AUGUST 2018

HOUSING MARKET

Median home values rose 6.1 percent in the Cincinnati metro area
in the year that ended with April 2018.

 HOUSING PRICES

Year-over-year percent change
10
— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

5
0

■ Recession

–5
–10
2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

Median home values rose 6.1 percent in the Cincinnati metro area
to $158,800 in the year that ended with April 2018. That increase is
somewhat weaker than the 7.2 percent increase recorded for the metro
area in the previous year that ended with April 2017. Still, recent growth
rates remain well above those seen in the previous economic expansion;
peak year-over-year increases for the metro area were just more than
4 percent during that period. Throughout the current economic
expansion, median home values have risen at annual rate of about
2 percent in the Cincinnati metro area and in Ohio and about 3 percent
in the nation as a whole.

2018

Source: Zillow.com/Haver Analytics.

The average monthly issuance of residential building permits in the Cincinnati
metro area in 2018 is the strongest the area has seen since 2007.
Index, 2007:M12=100, 12-month moving average
180
160
— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States
Cincinnati
■Average
Recession of
nearby metros

140
120
100
80
60

United States

40
20
2007

 H OUSING PERMITS

Through the first five months of 2018, the average monthly issuance of
residential building permits in the Cincinnati metro area slightly exceeded
the pace of issuance in 2017. The pace in 2018, about 546 building
permits per month, is the strongest since 2007, when the last expansion
ended. In the metro area, the state, and the nation, permit issuance has
gradually increased as the current economic expansion has strengthened.
Nevertheless, on a trailing, 12-month-average basis, the number of
permits issued across each of the three geographies remains lower than its
respective levels in December 2007; for Ohio, permit issuance is about
25 percent lower.

Ohio
2009

2011

2013

2015

2017

Source: US Census Bureau/Haver Analytics.

DEMOGRAPHICS AND EDUCATION
Cincinnati Metro Area
			
		
2016
Population
Adults with less than a
high school diploma

United States

Change from		
2006
2016

+4.6%
2,166,029	­

Change from
2006

323,406,000

+8.4%

9.6%

–3.8 pp

12.5%

–3.4 pp

Adults with an undergraduate
33.1%
degree or higher

+6.1 pp

31.3%

+4.3 pp

37.8

+1.4

37.9

+1.5

$63,168

+0.6%

$60,397

–0.1%

Median age (years)
Median household income

 CINCINNATI, OHIO

		In the 10-year period from 2006 to 2016, population in the Cincinnati

metro area grew almost 5 percent. For context, during the same period,
population change in the two other metro areas in Ohio that are about as
populous, Cleveland and Columbus, was –1.0 percent and 12.7 percent,
respectively. The national population grew nearly 9 percent during
this period. 		

Note: Percentage points is abbreviated as pp.
Source: US Census Bureau population estimates, American Community Survey.

Guhan Venkatu is group vice president of Regional Analysis and Outreach at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Mary DeStefano is a research analyst at the Bank’s Cincinnati
Branch. The authors thank economic analyst Christopher Vecchio for preparing the charts.
All monthly and quarterly figures are seasonally adjusted, and all dollar figures are in constant dollars, for which the base period is provided by the latest available data. Home prices are
an exception, and they are not adjusted for inflation. Where applicable, these adjustments are made prior to calculating percent changes or indexes. Several charts use indexed measures
to facilitate comparisons across regions and have a reference line at 100. These numbers can be thought of as the percentages of prerecession levels. If levels were growing before the
recession, prerecession indexes will be below 100; if levels were falling before the recession, prerecession indexes will be above 100.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, including its branch offices in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves the Fourth Federal Reserve District (Ohio, western Pennsylvania, the northern
panhandle of West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky).

Explore more regional analyses like this Metro Mix, along with research, datasets, and the Beige Book, at www.clevelandfed.org/region.

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of CLEVELAND