Manufacturing jobs up 24K in Ohio, Springfield firms hiring

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Manufacturing jobs up 24K in Ohio, Springfield firms hiring

By the numbers:

24,000: Manufacturing jobs added in Ohio between 2011 and 2013.

662,000: Ohioans employed in manufacturing in 2013

6,100: Springfield area residents employed in manufacturing in 2010

6,400: Springfield area residents employed in manufacturing in 2013

$36 billion: Annual payroll in Ohio in manufacturing

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio Manufacturer’s Association

In-depth coverage

The Springfield News-Sun provides unmatched coverage of the top employers in Clark and Champaign counties. For this story, the paper reviewed employment statistics and talked to local companies and a state manufacturing association.

Manufacturing in Ohio is regaining momentum after the Great Recession, adding 24,000 jobs between 2011 and 2013.

The sector has long been a critical part of Ohio’s economy and provides an overall annual payroll of about $36 billion, according to a report released this week by the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association.

McGregor Metal Working in Springfield is one of the companies that has benefited from an uptick in demand, said Jamie McGregor, vice president of business development for the company. It’s investing about $2 million into its five facilities, he said, 80 percent of which will be invested in Springfield.

“We’re seeing our sales up a little more than 10 percent year-to-date over last year and employment is up about the same,” McGregor said.

The company supplies metal parts for a variety of industries, ranging from automotive to agriculture to exercise equipment. The company employs about 370 workers across its five sites, about 30 more than last year.

“The good feelings in the economy right now, especially in manufacturing, have given us the confidence to spend in capital,” McGregor said of the $2 million investment. That’s about twice the amount the company invested last year, he said.

Konecranes USA in Springfield also has reported steady growth since 2012. The company, which produces cranes for shipyards and ports, is looking to hire more than 100 service field technicians nationwide, said Ville Lauren, director of supply and support for the company.

New technology and a demand for more eco-friendly products are also boosting the industry, Lauren said.

Despite the gains in recent years, information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the region and state still employ far fewer Ohioans than a decade ago. About 822,000 Ohioans were employed in manufacturing in 2004, compared to about 662,000 at the end of last year.

About 8,100 area residents in the Springfield region were employed by the industry a decade ago, BLS data shows, compared to 6,400 residents at the end of last year.

Still, those figures are an improvement from just a few years ago. During the economic downturn in 2010, the industry employed as few as 620,000 workers in Ohio and 6,100 in the Springfield region.

Companies that survived the recession are more efficient and healthier, McGregor said. One of the challenges he sees is with fewer remaining businesses, it often takes longer to order tools and equipment needed for the business.

“The people that survived the downturn of 2008 and 2009 are very busy,” McGregor said. “If you have half the number of suppliers that you did five years ago, the guys that survived are much healthier now and their backlogs are longer so it’s taking longer to get tools and equipment and fixtures that previously you could get in a shorter lead time.”

Information from the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association shows exports in the industry have picked up as well. The state’s top six sectors, including machinery, vehicles and aerospace, exported about $20.9 billion in goods in 2009 and $30.9 billion in 2013.

Several factors have contributed to the resurgence in the industry, said Ryan Augsburger, manager of public policy services for the association. Along with more demand for products made in the U.S., he said, some manufacturers are bring work back from overseas.

Compared to other states, he said Ohio also has a reasonably stable tax structure.

“It’s about building an economic environment in Ohio that is predictable and stable, that gives business the opportunity to reinvest and thereby protect and grow manufacturing in Ohio,” Augsburger said.

The association report lists about 159 manufacturing firms in Clark County in 2012 and 42 in Champaign County.

There have been signs locally that the industry is picking up as well, said John Detrick, Clark County commissioner.

“Most of our small manufacturers are hiring,” Detrick said.

McGregor said his company plans to take advantage of the improving economy and expects continued growth over the next few years.

“We’ve got some great momentum going that will be here for a couple of years and we’re certainly going to make hay while the sun is shining,” McGregor said.

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