Ohio Mirrors National Trends in Manufacturing Declines


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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio, along with many other states, has experienced a dramatic decline in manufacturing jobs since the 1940s, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The report documents the shifting landscape of manufacturing over the past 70 years and the impact on the sector in Ohio and other states. According to the findings, nearly one in four workers in the country was employed in manufacturing in 1940. That share fell to 15% in 2000 and then to about 10% in 2016.

Report co-author Neil Ridley, state initiative diector at the Georgetown Center, said the Buckeye State has followed the same trend.

"Ohio is home to automobile manufacturing and chemical manufacturing," he said. "Since 2000, it's experienced a drop of about 330,000 manufacturing workers. The state also experienced a drop in manufacturing output."

According to the report, the steep decline in manufacturing jobs is due to several factors including automation, international competition and rising worker productivity. In Ohio, manufacturing output per worker rose from $115,000 in 2000 to $141,000 in 2016.

Frederick Church, associate vice chancellor for the Ohio Department of Higher Education, said Ohio has the seventh-largest economy in the country and ranks third among states for its manufacturing output. He said he believes Ohio can continue to be an industry leader.

"The key," he said, "is to keep a workforce that's growing in skill; strategic investment in the kind of capital that increases productivity and increases manufacturing worker wages; and leveraging the very specific knowledge that we have in manufacturing."

Church said the manufacturing industry of today is much different than a half-century ago.

"It's become more complicated," he said. "The ability to program, or run or repair industrial robots is more important, and in general, more education, a greater package of skills, is important for manufacturing workers."

Since the 1940s, manufacturing has been a primary source of employment for workers with a high school diploma or less. Church added that advances in technology now often require workers to obtain industry certification, or certain levels of higher education.

The report is online at cew.georgetown.edu.

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