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Cincinnati — Poised for Continued Growth

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August 2015 | PDF

The Cincinnati metro area’s economy continues to deliver strong economic results, with superior growth in the construction and manufacturing sectors. A robust professional and business services sector and a growing education and health services sector continue to provide opportunities for the region to grow upon its stable base well into the future. Employment growth is strong as the unemployment rate, having declined to its lowest level in more than ten years, remains among the lowest for metropolitan statistical areas in the Fourth Federal Reserve District. Read more…

Metro Area Snapshot

Unemployment Rate Home Prices Payroll Employment Credit Card Delinquency Rates
June 2015 One-year change May 2015 One-year change December 2014 (thousands) One-year change 2015:Q1 One-year change
Cincinnati 4.3% −1.1 $136,900 1.8% 996 2.0% 6.2% −1.2
Ohio 5.2% −0.4 $115,600 1.7% 5,228 1.6% 6.9% −1.1
United States 5.3% −0.8 $179,200 3.0% 138,068 2.2% 7.5% −1.5
Nearby metro average 4.5% −1.1 $127,200 2.1% 704 2.0% 6.4% −1.0

Source: Don’t have this info yet, but will provide soon.

Cincinnati's unemployment rate has dropped to 4.3%

Unemployment Rate

By June 2015, the unemployment rate in the Cincinnati metro area dropped to 4.3 percent. This was the metro area’s best showing in the past ten years. As the nation’s recovery continues, the metro area’s relatively large share of employment in high-growth, high-demand sectors continues to prove beneficial. The region remains uniquely positioned in industrial sectors that benefit from the national recovery, such as professional and business services, education and health services, and trade, transportation and utilities. The region is also seeing strong employment demand in the skilled manufacturing and construction sectors as it responds to pent-up demand for manufactured goods in the aviation and auto sectors, and for real estate construction—both residential and nonresidential. Cincinnati’s low unemployment rate is approximately one percentage point lower than both the state of Ohio and the nation, and is slightly lower than the average for nearby metro areas.

Cincinnati's GDP per capita was about 2% above its pre-recession level

Gross Domestic Product

After a long recovery from the Great Recession, per capita GDP was stronger in the Cincinnati metro area than in the nation, state, and nearby metro areas through the end of 2013. At this point, the Cincinnati metro area’s per capita GDP stood approximately 2 percent above its pre-recession level. A relatively strong recovery is occurring in somewhat higher-paying sectors such as professional and business services, skilled manufacturing, and health services. The metropolitan area’s population, like many others in the state of Ohio, has continued to see weak population growth. According to the US Census Bureau, population in the Cincinnati metro area has increased by approximately 1.5 percent since July 2010, while the nation has increased by approximately 3.1 percent. Modest population growth and faster growth in output helped jointly raise the area’s per capita GDP.

Employment in the metro area continues to grow, but is outpaced by national job growth


Job growth in the Cincinnati metro area remains strong as the region capitalizes on its highly educated and innovative workers. Despite these factors, however, the region has yet to return to its pre-recession employment level. Through November 2014, employment in the metro area stood approximately 2 percent below its pre-recession level. This performance remains in line with the rate of recovery in the state of Ohio, but substantially below the pace of recovery for the average of nearby metro areas and the United States, where employment is approximately 2 percent above pre-recession levels. For the Cincinnati metro area, continued employment growth is expected as multiple companies have announced plans to expand in order to accommodate larger workforces.

Construction and manufacturing led Cincinnati's employment growth

Employment Growth by Sector

The Cincinnati metro area is experiencing strong growth in all of its industrial sectors except its the very small information sector. Although accounting for a mere 4 percent of area employment, the construction sector leads in growth. In response to increased homebuilding, more people are being hired into the residential construction sector. Additionally, commercial real estate employment is also rising with increased industrial construction in the downtown area, as well as in the health sector. Employment growth in the manufacturing sector is outpacing that of the state and the nation. This growth is primarily in response to the increased demand for parts coming from the auto and aviation sectors. For example, a top area employer and aerospace manufacturer, GE Aviation, is planning to open a new Additive Technology Center in the Cincinnati suburb of West Chester this summer to handle the increased demand for additional engine production.

Cincinnati's largest sectors added jobs at a rate of approximately 2% per year

Relative Employment Growth

As a percentage of employment, the professional and business services and the trade, transportation, and utilities sectors account for the largest shares of employment in the Cincinnati area. Both are growing at a rate of approximately 2 percent. Recent announcements have contributed to current growth and are expected to add more jobs in these sectors in the future. For example, General Electric is building a global operations center that will add an estimated 1,500 positions in information technology, human resources, finance, and other high-value-added fields. Barclays Services is in discussions with local taxing authorities to bring a call center and 1,500 jobs to Hamilton County. Colorado-based Startek USA launched its call center operation in Hamilton last month and is expected to increase hiring in the coming months.

Cincinnati's income per capita has increased 4.6% since 2009, in line with national performance

Income Per Capita

The Cincinnati metro area and the nation continue to see stronger income growth per capita than nearby metros. Since the end of the recession in June 2009, income per capita in Cincinnati has increased by 4.6 percent. This is in line with the national average, which has increased by 4.7 percent. The joint reasons for this superior performance is that the metro area continues to experience income growth due to expansion of employment in relatively higher-paying sectors, such as professional and business services, skilled manufacturing, and healthcare, while also contending with slowing population growth. However, as income growth per capita continues to increase, it should stimulate increased in-migration to the region in the future and support population growth.

After 5 years of decline, the level of consumer indebtedness has stabilized

Consumer Debt

Through the first quarter of 2015, average consumer debt levels in the Cincinnati area remain below those of the nation, but above those of the state of Ohio and nearby metro areas. The metro has actively sought to deleverage since the onset of the recession in late 2007 and has succeeded at a rate similar to that of the nation. However, like the nation, state, and nearby metro areas, the decline in the level of consumer indebtedness has slowed to the point of remaining stable throughout the last year. This is likely in response to growing consumer demand for consumer loans, primarily in the area of nonrevolving credit. Much of this growth can be traced to significantly increased demand for auto loans.

Cincinnati's credit card delinquency rate declined to 6.2% in 2015:Q1

Credit Card Delinquency Rates

Though the nation’s credit card delinquency rate has been steadily falling since the end of 2010, it rose from June 2012 to June 2013 in Toledo and, to a lesser extent, in Ohio and nearby metros. After having been below the US rate since at least 2000, Toledo’s March 2015 credit card delinquency rate is the same as the nation’s, with 7.5 percent of credit card balances delinquent. Delinquency rates have been fairly stable since the last quarter of 2014.

Home price growth has slowed, but prices sat 1.8% above levels from a year ago

Housing Prices

The Cincinnati housing market continues to advance at a pace consistent with the state and nearby metro areas, but is slightly behind that of the nation. In May 2015 house prices were 1.8 percent above their level a year ago, which is comparable to the state average of 1.7 percent. Similar to the path of the nation and state, price growth in the metro area has slowed since the beginning of 2014, but sales activity in the region has increased. Despite increased demand and slowly increasing supply, house price growth has slowed for multiple reasons, including but not limited to weak income growth, moderate rates of household formation, and continued strength in the rental housing market. However, the local market for homes is likely to accelerate as employment strengthens.

Permitting activity, while seeing modest increases, remained 36% below pre-recession levels

Housing Permits

Though quite volatile, it appears that single-family building permits fell during the first half of 2015 in Ohio and Toledo, while increasing in nearby metro areas and the United States. In all four areas, permits remain well below their peak during the housing boom of 2005 and 2006.

Cincinnati metro area United States
2013 Change from 2009 2013 Change from 2009
Population 2,137,406 +1.4% 316,129,000 +3.1%
Adults with less than a high school diploma 10.4% −2.0% 13.4% −1.3%
Adults with an undergraduate degree or higher 31.2% +2.6% 29.6% +1.7%
Median age (years) 37.9 +1 years 37.5 +0.7 years
Median household income $54,680 −5.2% $53,524 −4.2%

Sources: Census Population estimates; American Community Survey.

Demographics and Education

According to 2014 US Census Bureau estimates, Cincinnati is the 28th largest of the 381 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States.

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