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Gov. John Kasich to trumpet Ohio jobs recovery as travels continue to New Hampshire

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. John Kasich said Friday that Ohio has recovered the jobs it lost during the national recession and he plans to share the state's success story as he travels the country, including to New Hampshire, while mulling a run for president.

Surrounded by his Cabinet at a Statehouse news conference, the Republican governor spotlighted a January unemployment report that showed Ohio has regained both the 350,000 private-sector jobs lost during the recession-era governorship of his predecessor and more than the 406,000 private-sector jobs lost during the entire recession.

"It is pretty remarkable what's happened here — not just the economic growth, but the way in which we've done it," he said, touting tax cuts, government innovations and creation of a privatized, economic-development office.

Kasich said hitting the private-sector jobs benchmark isn't a "mission accomplished" moment, but it can send a positive message about Ohio's economic and tax policies to other states.

"This is not about crowing. This is not about us saying somehow we're great people," Kasich said. "What's happened here today, it's satisfying. It feels good to be part of the Ohio team."

Kasich said he plans a trip to New Hampshire, the first presidential primary state, where he'll talk about Ohio's approach to reforms in the areas of government health care, K-12 education and setting budget priorities. He also will travel to Maine and return to South Carolina, among states where he has been stumping for a federal balanced budget amendment.

He says he's in no hurry to make a decision about a 2016 White House bid.

Kasich acknowledged that the post-recession recovery he speaks of is exclusive to the private sector, which he said is the life's blood of an economic recovery. Ohio's total non-farm employment for January remains lower than when the recession began in December 2007 — lagging by 24,600 jobs.

Kasich said it was important to mark Friday's jobs news because he routinely has been questioned about when it would come. He used the job losses during his gubernatorial campaigns to hammer Gov. Ted Strickland and other Democrats.

Strickland is seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Rob Portman next year. He has defended his efforts to bolster Ohio's economy during the recession.

Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni said adjusted jobs numbers out Friday confirmed that the state's recovery actually began in 2010, while Strickland was still in office.

"Curiously, Gov. Kasich fails to mention the lost public-sector jobs that have not been recovered," he said. "All jobs matter regardless of whether you work for a business or you're a teacher, firefighter or police officer."

Ohio's median household income remains below its pre-recession level. Meanwhile, average weekly wages in Ohio at the start of the recession were $691, or $779 in today's dollars, compared with about $762 now.

Kasich said getting Ohioans into higher paying jobs is a focus of many of his administration's educational and workplace initiatives, as well as of policies laid out in his $72.3 billion, two-year budget proposal.

Ohio's jobless rate announced Friday of 5.1 percent was below the nation's rate of 5.7 percent for January and notably below last January's 6.5 percent.

The state gained 72,700 jobs in 2014, according the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. That's up from the originally reported total of 45,800 jobs. The figures are revised annually using more detailed employment data.

Job and Family Services Assistant Director Bruce Madson said Friday's adjusted figures show that Ohio is gaining jobs "more rapidly and more consistently" than previously reported. He said Ohio's annual average unemployment rate for last year was 5.7 percent, a significant drop from 7.5 percent in 2013, but slightly higher than previously reported.

The newly released job numbers showed that Ohio had 293,000 unemployed workers in January.

The state also saw 25,100 jobs added over the month, primarily in sectors of educational and health services and trade, transportation and utilities.

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