For the first time in 10 years local manufacturing jobs are on the rise throughout the greater Cincinnati region including Butler County, according to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.
“In the greater Cincinnati area there has been improvement in manufacturing, especially in the metropolitan area from 2010-2011,” Assistant Bureau Chief of Labor Marketing Information, Brian Baker, of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, said.
Job numbers began to improve in the mid to latter part of 2011 and moving into January 2011, the number of manufacturing jobs were still above the 2010 level, according to Baker.
According to Baker, for January 2012 there were 108,900 manufacturing jobs in the metropolitan area, whereas there were 102,500 jobs for the area in January 2011.
“In Butler County, recent information says that the average number of manufacturing jobs for the second quarter of 2011 was 19,376, and for second quarter 2010, there were 19,595 jobs, which was only a slight decrease. Overall manufacturing industry is still trending upwards,” Baker said.
Numbers often fluctuate depending on what type of manufacturing occurs throughout the quarter. Quarters are not seasonally adjusted, meaning if manufacturers such as automobile companies have to slow down or take breaks, the information is not adjusted, according to Baker.
“We were hit hard by the recessionary period,” Baker said. “There were things like layoffs that set manufacturing back, but just like statewide trends, we are rebounding in manufacturing and Butler County is sharing in some of that…it’s not as strong in some areas of jobs as others but it has definitely shown growth over the recessionary period.”
Baker is hopeful the positive trends will continue.
“Hopefully we are going to stay on this slow, steady increase…the point that we want to make is that Butler County has shown improvement since the recessionary period,” Baker said. “Lately it has been just more or less stable, but it has had quite a bit of improvement in the recessionary period.”
Matt Pfirman, general manager of steel manufacturer J.N. Linrose in Hamilton, Ohio said he has also seen growth in manufacturing throughout the company.
“We are a four-year-old company and we’re relatively new, and compared to larger competitors we’re pretty small, but in the past few years we’ve done a lot of things to place ourselves in good positions,” Pfirman said. “Our January sales from 2011 to 2012 is already up 20 percent.”
Pfirman said he believes the company’s decisions will provide benefits in the long run.
“As the economy turns around, we’re hoping our decisions will allow us to grow market share,” Pfirman said.
Since J.N. Linrose is a start-up company, they have added capital investments, built a more efficient new manufacturing facility and bought new equipment, Pfirman said. The company has also focused on customer service.
“We’ve strategically worked with customers in the market place that we think will help us to get our foot in the door,” Pfirman said. “We want to start building our relationships with customers so that later as their demand increases, they will hopefully choose to give us a part of their business. They’ll have a favorable impression of us and basically will want to do business with us then. And I think we have definitely seen signs that the economy is improving.”
Ross Meyer, executive director at Partners for a Competitive Workforce in the greater Cincinnati region, said he has also seen improved rates in manufacturing jobs as of late.
“We’re seeing good uptake in manufacturing jobs in the region,” Meyer said. “The challenge that we see is that the manufacturing jobs that we once had and then lost are different than the jobs we are gaining now.”
Manufacturing jobs now require more technical skills that require more than a high school education, unlike most of the jobs in the manufacturing industry before the recessionary period, according to Meyer.
“Our company works to better prepare people for work in manufacturing now and we are seeing good growth. The majority of jobs that are coming back are in manufacturing,” Meyer said.
Miami University sophomore Alexa Livadas said she believes newer manufacturing jobs requiring higher skills will be a positive asset for the industry.
“I think with new manufacturing jobs coming back into the market, more people will be eager to take them and I definitely think that it is going to keep the industry going,” Livadas said.