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Gary Wagner and Mary DeStefano

CINCINNATI, OHIO MSA | MARCH 2018

Cincinnati—Solid Growth Continues

Growth continues at a solid pace in the Cincinnati metro area, with the metro area continuing to outperform the state for most major indicators. Per
capita income levels reached an all-time high in 2016, and the metro area’s unemployment rate has now been below 5.0 percent for more than three
consecutive years. Job growth has occurred in most major sectors, and the metro area has added more than 16,000 jobs during the past year. Though
credit card delinquency rates have edged up over the past year, they still remain well below historical norms. Home prices are continuing to increase
at a steady clip, fueled by a strong labor market and a smaller number of homes for sale.

METRO AREA SNAPSHOT
Unemployment Rate
December
2017

Median Home Value

One-year
change

Payroll Employment

Credit Card
Delinquency Rate

One-year
change

June 2017

One-year
change

2017:Q4

One-year
change

(percent)

(percentage points)

(percent)

(percentage points)

December
2017

Cincinnati

4.1

–0.2

$156,600

5.5

1,036

1.6

6.4

0.4

Ohio

4.7

–0.3

$130,000

4.7

5,369

1.2

6.9

0.2

United States

4.1

–0.6

$206,300

6.5

143,931

1.7

7.2

0.1

The Cincinnati metro area’s unemployment rate has been below
5.0 percent for more than three consecutive years.
Percent
12
10

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

8
6

■ Recession

4
2
0
2007

2009

2011

2013

2015

(percent)

(thousands)

(percent)

 UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

The Cincinnati metro area’s labor market conditions remain tight by historical
standards, as the region’s unemployment rate ended 2017 at 4.1 percent. The
metro area has now experienced 35 consecutive months during which the
unemployment rate has been at or below 4.8 percent—the metro area’s lowest
unemployment rate reading during the previous economic expansion (from
2002 to 2007). During the past 12 months, the metro area’s unemployment
rate has remained, on average, 0.8 percentage points lower than Ohio’s
unemployment rate, generally tracking the national unemployment rate.

2017

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/Haver Analytics.

As of 2016, inflation-adjusted GDP per capita for the Cincinnati metro
area exceeded its prerecession level by more than 8 percent.
Index, 2007=100
110
108
106

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

104
102
100

■ Recession

98
96
94
92
2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis/Haver Analytics.

2016

 GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT

As of 2016, the latest year for which data are available, inflation-adjusted
GDP per capita for both the Cincinnati metro area and Ohio exceeded
their prerecession levels by more than 8 percent. The nation, too, exceeded
its prerecession level but by a much smaller percentage (just 3.6 percent).
Per capita growth rates for the metro area exceeded 2 percent in both 2015
and 2016, making these years the first two consecutive years of per capita
GDP growth exceeding 2 percent since 2005. This is a noteworthy signal
that the current economic expansion, which began in 2009, has really
begun to take hold in the metro area.

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

MARCH 2018

EMPLOYMENT AND INDUSTRIAL SECTORS

The Cincinnati metro area has 25,000 more jobs than it did in 2007.

 EMPLOYMENT

Index, 2007:M12=100
106
104

The number of jobs in the Cincinnati metro area continues to expand at
a solid pace. Compared to the prerecession levels of 2007, the metro area
now has roughly 25,000 more jobs, a net increase of 2.4 percent. The metro
area’s job growth exceeds that of Ohio (1.4 percent above 2007 levels) but
somewhat trails that of the nation to this point (6.0 percent above 2007
levels). The current postrecovery gap between the metro area and the nation
can be attributed to the metro area’s slower rate of employment growth
between 2010 and 2013. However, since the beginning of 2014, metro
area job growth has only slightly lagged national job growth (6.0 percent
compared to 6.5 percent, respectively). Between June 2016 and June 2017,
metro area employment expanded at a rate of 1.6 percent, translating to more
than 16,000 jobs. During this same period, employment expanded in Ohio
and in the nation at rates of 1.2 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

102
100

■ Recession

98
96
94
92
2007

2009

2011

2013

2015

2017

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

During the past year, the financial activities sector experienced the
strongest growth in the Cincinnati metro area.

 EMPLOYMENT GROWTH BY SECTOR

The Cincinnati metro area’s leisure and hospitality sector and education
and health services sector have gained jobs more briskly than those sectors
in Ohio but more slowly than those sectors in the nation. During the
past year (June 2016 through June 2017), the financial activities sector
experienced the strongest growth in the metro area, adding jobs at a
4.0 percent clip. This growth rate far outpaced the sector’s growth rates in
the state and nation of 2.3 percent and 1.9, respectively. Though this sector
comprises just a 6.5 percent share of employment in the metro area, such
growth is a real bright spot for the metro area’s economy because, with
average annual wages that exceed $77,000, jobs in the financial activities
sector pay nearly 50 percent more than the metro area’s average.

Financial activities
Trade, transportation, and utilities
Construction
Leisure and hospitality

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

Education and health services
Manufacturing
Professional and business services

		–2
0
2
4
		Percent change

6

8

10

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
The following sectors were imputed due to missing data: financial activities and construction.

Nearly all major sectors of the metro area’s economy experienced
employment gains between June 2016 and June 2017.
Employment

12-month
change

Share of
employment

Trade, transportation, and utilities

204,672

5,275

19.5

Education and health services

160,774

2,394

15.4

Professional and business services

158,450

–160

15.1

Leisure and hospitality

130,039

2,210

12.4

Manufacturing

116,628

1,612

11.1

Financial activities

67,952

2,595

6.5

Construction

45,078

1,045

4.3

Sector

 SECTOR EMPLOYMENT

Consistent with continued, broad-based growth, nearly all major
sectors of the metro area’s economy experienced employment
gains between June 2016 and June 2017. The only exception is the
professional and business services sector, which shed 160 jobs
(a reduction of 0.10 percent). The metro area’s largest sector—trade,
transportation, and utilities—gained more than 5,200 jobs and now
accounts for one of every five jobs in the metro area. Manufacturing,
which now ranks as the metro area’s fifth largest job sector, gained
more than 1,600 jobs during the past year.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
The following sectors were imputed due to missing data: financial activities 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

MARCH 2018

INCOME
In 2016, income per capita reached an all-time high for the Cincinnati
metro area.
 I NCOME PER CAPITA

Thousands of dollars
52

	
Continued employment growth and tightening labor market conditions

50

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

48
46

■ Recession

44
42
40
2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

have helped to propel income per capita to all-time highs in 2016 for the
Cincinnati metro area ($49,704), Ohio ($45,544), and the United States
($50,295). This reflects solid growth of 11.6 percent for Cincinnati,
11.9 percent for Ohio, and 11.8 percent for the nation since the lows of
the last recession (in 2009). During 2016 (the most recent year for which
we have data), inflation-adjusted per capita income grew 0.6 percent in
Cincinnati, 0.5 percent in Ohio, and 0.4 percent in the nation.

2016

Source: Bureau of Economics/Haver Analytics.

CONSUMER FINANCES
The Cincinnati metro area’s consumer debt level has remained
relatively stable since mid-2014.
 C ONSUMER DEBT

Thousands of dollars
55
50

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

45
40

■ Recession

35
30
25
2007

2009

2011

2013

2015

 onsumer debt levels per capita for the Cincinnati metro area, state, and
C
nation have remained relatively stable since mid-2014. The metro area’s
current average balance of mortgage, auto, and credit card debt ($33,709)
is more than 20 percent lower than it was when it peaked in 2008. Because
roughly two-thirds of all consumer debt nationally is mortgage debt, much
of the average per capita debt differences between the metro area and the
state and the metro area and the nation can be explained by differences in
home prices. Everything else being equal, the average homeowner in the
Cincinnati metro area will have more debt than the average homeowner in
Ohio because the metro area’s home prices are higher than the state’s.

2017

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

The Cincinnati metro area’s credit card delinquency rate has remained
at or below its current rate for more than a year.
 C REDIT CARD DELINQUENCY RATE

Percent of credit card balances delinquent
14
12
— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

10
8
6

■ Recession

4
2
0
2007

2009

2011

2013

2015

2017

The credit card delinquency rate in the Cincinnati metro area has
remained at or below its current rate for the past 13 months. Presently,
6.4 percent of all credit card balances in the metro area are considered
to be delinquent; this rate is lower than that of Ohio (6.9 percent) and
the nation (7.2 percent). Comparing the fourth quarter of 2016 with
the fourth quarter of 2017, delinquency rates have ticked up from
6.0 percent to 6.4 percent in the Cincinnati metro area, from
6.7 percent to 6.9 percent in Ohio, and from 7.1 percent to 7.2 percent
in the nation. However, household balance sheets remain quite strong,
and the delinquency rates are still well below historical norms.

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

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

MARCH 2018

Home prices in the Cincinnati metro area have increased 5.5 percent
during the last year.
Year-over-year percent change
8
6

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States

4
2
0

■ Recession

-2

HOUSING MARKET
 HOUSING PRICES

As of December 2017, median home values for the Cincinnati metro area,
Ohio, and the United States were $156,600, $130,000, and $206,300,
respectively. These values constitute increases from the previous year for the
metro area (5.5 percent), the state (4.7 percent), and the nation (6.5 percent).
While low interest rates and solid employment growth have helped to boost
home prices by increasing demand, pressure is also coming from the smallerthan-usual supply of homes for sale in the metro area.

-4
-6
-8
2007

2009

2011

2013

2015

2017

Source: Zillow.com/Haver Analytics.

The number of building permits issued in the Cincinnati metro area has
been on the rise since April 2011.
Index, 2007:M12=100, six-month moving average
250
200

— Cincinnati
— Ohio
— United States
Cincinnati
■Average
Recession of
nearby metros

150
100
50
0
2006

United States
Ohio
2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

 H OUSING PERMITS

The number of building permits for single-family homes has been trending
upward since April 2011. However, permit issuance levels have yet to return
to prerecession levels for the Cincinnati metro area, Ohio, and the United
States. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, construction
employment has yet to reach prerecession levels. Additionally, FDIC data
show that bank lending to construction and land development projects in
Ohio continue to remain below their prerecession levels as well. In December
2017, the number of permits issued in Cincinnati was 7.2 percent below 2007
levels. By comparison, the number of permits issued in Ohio and the United
States was below 2007 levels by 24.8 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively.
Still, as with increases in GDP per capita and employment, the increase in
building permits is a sign that the economy continues to improve.

2018

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		
2010
2016

2,165,139	­+2.2%

Change from
2010

323,128,000

+4.5%

9.6%

–2.2 pp

12.5%

–1.9 pp

Adults with an undergraduate
33.1%
degree or higher

+3.8 pp

31.3%

+3.1 pp

37.8

+0.7

37.9

+0.7

$61,896

+6.2%

$59,181

+4.6%

Median age (years)
Median household income

 CINCINNATI, OHIO

		From 2010 to 2016, the population of the Cincinnati metro area and the

United States increased by 2.2 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively. Census
data points to birth rate increases and an influx of foreign-born migrants as
the two primary factors contributing to population growth in the metro
area. During the same period, median household income increased more
in the Cincinnati metro area (6.2 percent) than in the nation as a whole
(4.6 percent) in inflation-adjusted terms. Increases in median household
income in Cincinnati and the rest of the nation are partially attributed to
tightening labor market conditions, which have been pushing up wages and
salaries. Additionally, both the metro area and the nation are seeing higher
levels of education among the adult population. 		

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

Gary Wagner is vice president and senior regional officer of the Cincinnati Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Mary DeStefano is a research analyst at the Branch. The
authors thank senior research 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).

www. clevelandfed.org

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of CLEVELAND