Aug 14, 2023 - News

Why Midwest manufacturing is growing at a slower rate

Change in U.S. manufacturing jobs
Data: BLS; Note: May 2023 data is preliminary. Seasonally-adjusted estimates used; Map: Axios Visuals

Ohio's manufacturing jobs haven't grown as rapidly as other parts of the country in recent years, despite being one of the top states for making goods.

Why it matters: Manufacturing is a significant piece of our state's diverse economy, so the industry's long-term health is important.

By the numbers: Ohio gained about 30,800 manufacturing jobs from January 2021 to May 2023, an increase of about 4.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • That percentage gain is middle of the pack, ranking No. 32, and lower than the nationwide average of 6.4%.

Yes, but: In terms of sheer number of jobs added, the Buckeye State ranks fourth-highest.

  • Midwestern states, which have historically dominated this sector, are starting from a higher base number of jobs.
States with the most manufacturing jobs added since January 2021
Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: The U.S. has added some 800,000 manufacturing jobs during President Biden's 2½ years in office, with the South and Mountain West experiencing especially strong growth, Axios' Hans Nichols writes.

  • Biden is seeking to take credit for those new jobs, especially the union ones.

Between the lines: While many factors influence where manufacturers choose to do business, the Midwest's shrinking population and a shortage of semi-skilled workers like machine operators is likely hindering its growth potential.

What they're saying: Ned Hill, an economic development professor at Ohio State University's John Glenn College of Public Affairs, tells Axios the shortage has been exacerbated by decreased immigration into the U.S., competition from warehouse jobs like Amazon's, and disruption of parents' day care services amid the pandemic.

What's next: We've yet to see the impact of some recent high-profile manufacturing announcements, including Intel's massive Ohio One chip plant in Licking County and Honda's EV battery factory in Jeffersonville.

  • Columbus was also dubbed a Workforce Hub by the Biden Administration, which plans to partner with local leaders to beef up our tech manufacturing workforce.

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