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As Manufacturing Economy Rises in Northeast Ohio, Jobs Stay Flat

May 15, 2015
Higher tech jobs will replace obsolete ones, and outsourcing and increased automation will continue, says Cleveland-Akron economic group.

Although productivity is expected to surge in the next decade in the manufacturing-heavy region of Northeast Ohio, that won’t necessarily translate into an increase in manufacturing jobs in the region, according to TeamNEO, a technology-based economic development nonprofit.

The gross regional product in Northeast Ohio grew by 17% from 1990 to 2015, while productivity increased by 92% and manufacturing employment declined 40%, according to Team NEO’s April 2015 Quarterly Economic Indicators report, released in April. The organization projects that from 2015 to 2025, the Gross Regional Product will grow another 25% and productivity another 63%.

However, the 49,000 production job openings projected during that time will be mainly to replace retirees and bring higher-tech jobs in as other manufacturing jobs become obsolete.  

“Overall, manufacturing employment is relatively flat at about 250,000 workers,” says Jacob Duritsky, research director for TeamNEO. “We don’t really see too much new job growth, but we don’t see continued declines.” Two areas of limited job growth are automotive and food manufacturing.

Duritsky says employment has slowed in the region “largely for the past couple of decades” because of production going overseas, “or capital replacing labor” with increased automation.

TeamNEO represents an 18-county area including Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Canton.

Of the 21 manufacturing sectors in Northeast Ohio, 15 are projected to grow in the next decades, with fabricated metal product manufacturing ($8.6 billion), transportation equipment manufacturing ($8.3 billion), and chemical manufacturing ($8 billion) leading the pack.

For its projections, TeamNEO analyzed data from sources including Moody's county-level output, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio's Labor Market Information. and the CoStar Group.

“I think we should feel extremely optimistic,” says Duritsky. “Manufacturing is still the second largest employment sector here, after healthcare. When you talk about manufacturing--talk about output or gross product in a region-manufacturing represents a fifth of our total economy. And in the next decade, it will be 22 percent. So contrary maybe to some perceptions, manufacturing here is actually growing in importance.”

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