News and Analysis
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job openings in the U.S. manufacturing sector rose to a new all-time high, up from 496,000 in April to 509,000 in May. At the same time, the Federal Reserve this week reported that U.S. manufacturing production was down for the second consecutive quarter. 7/16/2019
A decade after the end of the Great Recession, America’s — and Ohio’s — workforce participation rate is still near record-low levels despite years of economic growth. As of May 2019, the labor force participation rate in Ohio was 62.4%, even as the state’s unemployment rate continues to decline.
Recent research from the Federal Reserve shows the main reason for the participation rate decline continues to be baby boomer retirements. But another key factor is the steady decline in the participation of prime-age workers, especially men ages 25-54. (The participation rate for U.S. men has fallen from 86% after World War II to roughly 69% today.) Financial publication TheBalance.com cites the rise in disabled workers as another driver, fueled in part by drug use and obesity-related diseases. (The Social Security Administration’s disability payroll roughly tripled from 1990 through 2014, peaking near 9 million.) 7/16/2019
This week, the DeWine-Husted administration relaunched the In-Demand Jobs Survey for employers. The governor has called the survey “one of the most important tools the state uses to direct its workforce development efforts” since the feedback helps the state determine its In-Demand Jobs List.
Officials at the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation say this year’s survey is much more user-friendly, straightforward, and less time consuming. Employers will be asked to forecast their top hiring needs for the next one, three, and five years.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a select list of grant recipients who will be awarded federal dollars to grow the use of industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs) — a market-driven approach to expanding earn-and-learn opportunities. On the list was the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership, a collaboration of the OMA and its partners, Lorain County Community College and Ohio TechNet.
For Ohio’s manufacturing community, this is big news. The $12 million in federal funding will be used to train 5,000 Ohioans in the manufacturing sector over the next four years.
The grant comes at the perfect time for Ohio manufacturers, following the establishment of a statewide system of regional industry sector partnerships — spearheaded by the OMA to encourage collaboration and resource sharing among manufacturers and their partners. “It was this systems-level work that prepared us to submit a compelling proposal to the Department of Labor,” said OMA President Eric Burkland.
See the OMA’s news release on the grant announcement. Also, here are the comments from U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown regarding this exciting news. In the coming months, we will let you know how you can get involved in this workforce development effort. 6/25/2019
Ohio’s unemployment rate continues to drop, hovering at 4.3% based on April data. Many areas are experiencing unemployment rates well below the statewide average, with more than one-third of Ohio counties claiming jobless rates of 3.0% or less. While positive in terms of the economy, this exacerbates manufacturers’ efforts to fill openings.
Local press coverage of Ohio’s falling unemployment has captured some interesting stories behind the story, including the following narratives:
- Bimbo Bakeries’ Employee Relations Manager Joe Goldsmith told the Zanesville Times Recorder that many prospective employees can’t pass mandatory drug screenings. “We’ve had more failed drug tests for potential new hires this year than we have the last six years together,” he said.
- Company Wrench owner Brad Hutchinson told the Lancaster Eagle Gazette, “There are more jobs out there than there are people. We can’t find enough people to work. We’re actually turning business away because we don’t have enough employees.”
- The quarterly Manpower survey for central Ohio — which boasts a 2.7% unemployment rate — shows a job market so tight that each qualified applicant for some lower-skill jobs is getting three offers, said a Manpower spokesman. 6/20/2019
Stories like these are one reason why the OMA has devised a workforce roadmap, while helping organize Ohio’s industry sector partnerships — a proven strategy for meeting the workforce needs of employers. 6/18/2019
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine this week appointed more than two dozen Ohio citizens to serve on his Executive Workforce Board. The board advises the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, as well as the governor himself, on the development, implementation, and continuous improvement of the state’s workforce system.
Most board members are from the business community, but also included are representatives from the Ohio General Assembly, local government, state agency, labor, and higher education.
Among the appointees were:
- OMA President Eric Burkland;
- OMA board member Lissa Barry, president and CEO of Delta Systems Inc.;
- OMA Workforce Leadership Committee Chair Scot McLemore, manager of talent acquisition and deployment at Honda North America, Inc.; and
- Randy Niekamp, vice president – human resources for Crown Equipment Corp.
All new appointees started their terms June 10. 6/10/2019
OMA President Eric Burkland addresses the June 12 quarterly meeting of the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board. Burkland briefed fellow board members on industry sector partnerships and ways to encourage regional workforce innovation.
The Ohio House of Representatives this week passed House Bill 2, priority legislation that is supported by the OMA. If enacted, HB 2 would create the TechCred program to reimburse employers for costs associated with training current or prospective employees who earn an industry-recognized credential.
The bill would also provide $2.5 million a year, for two years, to help support business-led industry sector partnerships. For the past several years, the OMA has worked to created a network of manufacturing sector partnerships statewide. These partnerships would be eligible to receive grants individually or as a network for their efforts to promote manufacturing careers, while also helping individuals attain the skills necessary to enter the manufacturing workforce.
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee has included portions of HB 2 in its substitute version of the state budget bill (HB 166) — but the amount of funding available for the programs has been reduced considerably. The OMA is working to restore the funding amounts in the Senate. 6/13/2019
Last year, 14.3% of Ohio employees were represented by a labor union, up from 13.6% one year earlier. That’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and its newly revised data on union membership.
According to the BLS, roughly 639,000 Ohio workers (12.6% of those employed) belonged to a union. Another 83,000 wage and salary workers in the Buckeye State were represented by a union, but weren’t members themselves. Of Ohio’s neighboring states, only Michigan had a higher percentage of union-represented employees at 15.4%.
Nationally, the highest rates of union representation in 2018 were in Hawaii (24.3%), New York (24.1%), and Washington (20.5%). The lowest rates were in South Carolina (3.6%), North Carolina (4.0%), and Arkansas (5.3%).
Despite claiming the 16th highest percentage of union-represented workers in the U.S., Ohio’s 14.3% figure is far below its level from 1990, when 23.2% of Ohio employees were represented by a union.
Meanwhile, additional analysis by UnionStats.com shows a large disparity in Ohio’s union representation. Half (50.0%) of Ohio’s public employees were represented by a union in 2018, compared to only 8.4% of private-sector workers. 6/13/2019
Earlier this week, The Plain Dealer published a report on possible ways Northeast Ohio could reform its K-12 education system to better meet the state’s workforce needs and fill existing jobs.
The report — which was part of the newspaper’s “Pathways to Prosperity” series to examine European education models that have been successful in helping close the skills gap — offered key recommendations from business and academic professionals. The suggestions included:
- Start as early as middle school to motivate students with visions of a meaningful career.
- Make the experience count. High schoolers are ready to do demanding work, especially from internships to apprenticeships.
- Fit training to in-demand jobs. Teach specific occupational skills, as well as general academic skills.
- Include soft skills, such as collegiality and dependability.
- Consider students’ finances. Early training gives students valuable skills before graduating from high school. That helps them earn a living wage upon graduation, instead of piling up more training costs.
- Keep the pathway open for adult workers.
The story notes that there are “exemplary local programs” already in existence, such as Cleveland’s Early College Early Career program, which offers high school students paid internships with manufacturers and tuition-free community college classes. 6/10/2019
House Bill 2, a priority measure that aims to enhance Ohio’s workforce, was advanced earlier this week from the House Workforce and Economic Development Committee and was quickly referred to the House Finance Committee due to the bill’s proposed appropriations. The OMA supports HB 2.
Reps. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) provided sponsor testimony Thursday before the Finance Committee to summarize the need for the bill. The bill would continue to provide $5 million over the course of two years for industry sector partnerships, while also funding a new TechCred program, which would reimburse employers up to $2,000 when their employees receive short-term training that results in an industry-recognized credential.
To help lead the way in workforce development, the OMA has established a network of manufacturer-led industry sector partnerships throughout the state. HB 2 is expected to be on the House floor next week. 6/6/2019