Unemployment rate falls in metro areas

A worker at an auto plant in Toledo, Ohio. Cities in the Midwest have seen a steady decline in unemployment according to new reports.

Steve Chiotakis: President Obama this week is talking a lot about the middle class, trying to pressure Congress to extend the payroll tax cut. He's also urging economic fairness for people who've suffered during the Great Recession, including millions of out of work Americans.

But new jobless data suggest things may be turning around. The unemployment rate in three-quarters of big metro areas across the country fell in November. Some of the biggest gainers of jobs? Cities of the Midwest and the Rust Belt.

George Zeller is an economic research analyst who joins us now from Cleveland. Good morning, sir.

George Zeller: Good morning, Steve.

Chiotakis: So really, the Rust Belt? I thought the Rust Belt was bleeding jobs.

Zeller: Yes, for a very long time we've had a horrible economic situation out here in Ohio. The national recession has just clobbered the world, but recently we've seen a slow recovery here in Ohio I'm very glad to say -- and the source of the recovery is manufacturing growth.

Chiotakis: What kind of things are people making now?

Zeller: We've had a huge expansion at the General Motors Lordstown assembly plant, where they manufacture the Cruze. In addition, Youngstown, where the steel industry was decimated decades ago, has a huge steel mill under construction right now. And the market for all this, of course, is auto sales, which have been robust.

Chiotakis: You think, George, that this is a sign that we're actually recovering or do you think this is something else here?

Zeller: Oh, it is a genuine recovery here in Ohio, especially the manufacturing portion, which ripples into the rest of the economy. But we still have economic problems that are severe, but I'm very glad to say that we have a national model in Youngstown of all places, which is growing more robust than any place in Ohio.

Chiotakis: George Zeller, economic research analyst from Cleveland. George, thanks.

Zeller: Thank you sir.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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