Staff and wire reports
COLUMBUS - Jobs and programs to help jump-start the economy are expected to dominate Gov. Bob Taft's sixth State of the State speech today.
The state's unemployment rate was 6 percent in December, up from 5.7 percent in November. Ohio unemployment has risen from 4 percent four years ago.
Of particular concern are manufacturing jobs, which provide employment to about 850,000 people.
The state has lost more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs in the last three years.
"Ohio manufacturing continues to face enormous pressures," Taft said last month.
Taft blamed often-unfair overseas competition and rising costs of health benefits, energy, regulation, litigation and pensions.
To help reverse job losses, the governor wants lawmakers to pass bills limiting lawsuits against companies and reducing workers comp costs, Taft said in the speech.
There's more at stake for Taft, a Republican in his second and final term, than just reducing unemployment.
President Bush will rely on Taft to deliver Ohio in November. No Republican has gained the White House without winning Ohio.
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