Manufacturing Jobs Ramp Back Up

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The number of people employed in manufacturing positions across the Mahoning Valley grew during 2022. Major ventures such as the Ultium Cells plant in Lordstown ramped up hiring and began production.

Preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 24,900 were employed in manufacturing in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman-Mercer, Pa., metropolitan statistical area as of December 2022.  That’s an increase of 3.3% since January 2022 data showing 24,100 employed and a 2% increase from December 2021, when 24,400 were working in the manufacturing sector.

The numbers also show area manufacturers have nearly rebounded to pre-pandemic employment levels.  In December 2019, BLS reported 25,000 were employed in manufacturing; producers matched that number in November 2022, according to BLS.

The manufacturing sector has improved significantly since COVID-19 upended the economy in 2020. That year, manufacturing employment sunk to 21,900 in April, the lowest point over the 10-year period that began in 2012. By December 2022, employment levels had improved by 13.7%.

Nevertheless, statistics show that overall employment in the region’s manufacturing arena is substantially lower than 10 years ago. In June 2012, BLS data show that manufacturers employed 31,800 people in Mahoning Valley. By December 2022, the industrial workforce had declined by 21.6%.

The closure of major factories, such as General Motors Co.’s Lordstown Assembly plant, greater use of automation in production processes, industrial workforce retirements, and a general reduction in the population of the Mahoning Valley have all contributed to the decline.

Indeed, BLS data point to a dramatic drop in the Mahoning Valley’s civilian labor force since 2012.  In June 2012, the metropolitan area recorded a total of 263,107 in the civilian labor force. By November 2022, that number had dwindled to 225,637, or a loss of 37,470 people over a decade – a drop of 14.2%.

Manufacturing companies employed 11% of the total civilian labor force in the Mahoning Valley in November 2022, and the manufacturing sector consisted of 11.5% of the region’s employed workforce, data show.