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The evidence is mounting that the economic recovery that began more than a year ago is beginning to create jobs in the Miami Valley and across the country.

Ohio has seen its unemployment rate fall in each of the past seven months, from 11.3 percent in June to 9.6 percent last month, according to government data, although Ohio’s annual unemployment rate is expected to hit 10.3 percent or higher for 2010.

Meanwhile, private placement firms and government jobs centers have reported an uptick in demand for workers. And small to medium-sized businesses, which typically drive employment recoveries, say they’re more optimistic than at any time since the recession began and plan to add jobs as conditions improve.

“There is pretty strong evidence that the economy is starting to pick up, but it has got a ways to go,” said Thomas Hall, an economics professor at Miami University in Oxford. “It’s not enough just to create jobs. You have to create jobs faster than people are coming into the labor force. We’re not there yet.”

Still, many experts predict that sustained economic expansion will continue to spur job growth and result in at least a moderate drop in unemployment.

In a report earlier this month, the Economic Advisory Committee of the American Bankers Association predicted the economy would add another 2.1 million new jobs this year, driving the U.S. unemployment rate down.

The committee also predicted that loans to consumers and businesses will grow this year. “Bank lending is growing and will help f

inance the economic expansion,” said Stuart G. Hoffman, acting committee chairman and chief economist of PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

(c) 2011 Dayton Daily News, Ohio

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.