1,800 Ohio jobs lost

Offshoring continues to impact Ohio with companies cutting at least 1,800 jobs in the state since January, according to petitions for federal assistance from employees, labor groups, and company officials.

This newspaper analyzed the U.S. Department of Labor records that track some, but not all, job losses from offshoring. Petitions for assistance are made to Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which assists workers who lose jobs for international trade-related reasons such as a company transferring production abroad or outsourcing work.

According to one corporate manager, an Ohio plant purchased by a Chinese company in 2008 was shut down along with 100 jobs because it competed with a plant the company owned in China.

Petitions say losses this year in southwestern Ohio include:

•Forty-two workers at NewPage Corp. in Miamisburg, among 220 companywide, as paper production dropped and product began shipping in from a restarted Canadian paper mill the company said receives illegal government subsidies.

•Eleven workers at Wm. Powell Co. in Cincinnati. The industrial valve maker has since the 1980s shed 1,200 jobs of union employees “due to the majority of the valves manufactured overseas in China, India and elsewhere,’ wrote United Steelworkers reps for the successful petition. A Powell official didn’t return a call for comment.

•Fifty-one workers at Amantea Nonwovens LLC., a diaper industry manufacturer and supplier to Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, lost jobs because a contract was not renewed and machinery sold and moved to China. Amantea could not be reached and P&G reps did not return calls for comment.

Petitions say that large companies that shed workers also include Honeywell Avionics in Strongsville, 80; Superior Fibers LLC., in Bremen, 106; battery-maker Energizer Holding Inc., in Westlake, 150; General Electric Lighting Inc., Ravenna, 160; Aclara Technologies LLC, in Solon, 80.

Another 117 jobs went with the closing of the Zhongding Sealing Parts USA facility in Strasburg in Tuscarawas County, a manufacturer of rubber parts for General Motors. It was the former Allied-Baltic Rubber Inc. plant.

Industry publication Rubber News said the plant, purchased in 2008 by the American arm of the China-based Anhui Zhongding Holding Group, closed because it competed with a production complex the company owned in China. The plant was awarded GM’s 2012 Supplier of the Year award.

The petition filled out by the plant’s manager said a hose business worth $8 million annually was moved to China’s duty free zone of Wuhu and parts manufacturing went to Ningguo, China.

“It’s the only plant we operate that actually competes with our operation in China. The others are all complementary,” the manager was quoted by Rubber News.

Requests for comment from Zhongding in Strasburg were not returned, but Harry Eden, president of the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County, said the job losses have been offset in the county by strong growth in the oil and gas industry.

Records made public by the Department of Labor include brief details of the job losses and whether federal officials, after an investigation, certified the losses as trade-related and eligible for assistance. They do not include investigatory findings that could explain why petitions were approved or denied by federal officials. TAA benefits include job training, income support, and job search allowances.

However, not all companies agree with the petitions, some of which are still under investigation. Honeywell, for example, has said work at its Strongsville repair facility is moving to Kansas. “The repair work done at this location will move to other Honeywell sites in the U.S. Employees will have the opportunity to apply for other Honeywell positions,” Honeywell said in a prepared statement.

From Jan. 1 until Aug. 12, petitions put Ohio job losses at about 1,844, but the total figure is unclear because not all petitions in an online database include job loss numbers. Of those, some investigations terminated before a decision, and some requests denied.

The issue of offshoring, industrial losses and middleclass decline was a centerpiece of the heated 2012 presidential election campaign in Ohio.

The Dayton region has been hit particularly hard. From 2002-10, close to 136,000 Ohio workers applied for Trade Adjustment Assistance, with 94,000 getting certified. Dayton ranked third among cities in the state for the most workers seeking assistance, while five of the top 15 cities came from the eight-county Dayton region, this newspaper’s examination shows.

According to the Department of Labor’s latest annual report to Congress, the offshoring job toll nationwide is declining.

In 2010, 287,026 American workers lost their jobs because of it; in 2011 is was 104,743 and for 2012 it was 81,510.

The decline is encouraging for Harry Moser, who in 2010 founded the Reshoring Initiative, an industry-led effort to return manufacturing jobs to the United States. Moser said factors that encourage re-industrializing are quality control, simplifying logistics, and rising overseas wages and transportation costs.

Moser’s research shows that from 2000 to 2008 offshoring grew every year at a pace of 100,000 to 150,000 manufacturing jobs, with reshoring growing at perhaps 2,000 jobs a year. In recent years, offshoring is growing at 30,000 to 50,000 jobs annually and reshoring is growing at about 30,000 jobs annually.

“It took 60 years for offshoring to reach its current level. It will take 20 or 30 years, at least, to largely reverse the trend,” he said. “There are new orders out there for offshoring, but new products are coming back.”

The Reshoring Initiative’s tracking of jobs returned to the U.S. indicates about 80,000 manufacturing jobs have been reshored since Jan. 1, 2010, including larger, more visible efforts by Apple, Ford, and Motorola, among others.

“If companies consistently evaluate all of the costs and risks, about 500,000 more manufacturing jobs would come back and the trade deficit fall by about 25 percent,” Moser said. “Larger improvements will require continued offshore wage increases, end of currency manipulation, lower corporate taxes, etc.”

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