Team NEO Projects 640,000 Job Openings Through 2025

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The northeastern Ohio region will need to replace a third of its workforce by 2025, the latest quarterly review by Team NEO shows.

The present local composition of the region’s workforce also remains weighted toward manufacturing and production, according to the report released this morning in Cleveland.

In all, there will be 640,000 job openings and 123,000 new jobs over the next decade in the 18-county northeastern Ohio region, Team NEO forecasts.

Employment in the region stands at about 1.9 million and is projected to grow about 6% to about 2.04 million over the next decade, said Jacob Duritsky, Team NEO vice president of strategy and research said during a briefing with local reporters Monday. That growth is slightly below what’s projected for the nation as a whole, due in part to relatively flat population growth in northeastern Ohio over the last 15 or 20 years.

“Employment tends to be a function of population,” Duritsky said. “If you have a relatively flat population it’s hard to see significant growth.” The lower growth rate over the next decade would also bring the region about 30,000 jobs short of where it was prior to the Great Recession.

At the top of sectors with the most projected job openings over the next decade are food preparation and office and administrative support with more than 80,000, sales and related fields at more than 70,000, and the health-care practitioners and technical sector with 52,000 openings, driven by a “strong healthcare and biomedical cluster” in the region, Duritsky said.

In an area that tends to surprise people, 45,000 production job openings are projected in the coming decade as well, he added. “If you look at overall manufacturing employment it’s actually showing a very slight decline in the next decade, down 1% or 2%, but that masks the fact that just because it’s not growing as a sector doesn’t mean we don’t need about 45,000 people to push back into those replacement jobs,” he said.

The Youngstown-Warren metropolitan statistical area “definitely shows a similar picture” in terms of production employment trends, said Sarah Boyarko, senior vice president, economic development, North America, with the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, who joined Duritsky for the briefing.

“By far, production workers have a higher concentration here than in the United States as a whole,” Duritsky said. “It’s about 50% more important to northeastern Ohio’s occupational composition than it is to the U.S. average.” The concentration of health-care workers is 20% to 40% higher than the U.S. average, “depending on which subgroup you look at,” he added.

“We do work with companies outside the region, particularly around manufacturing opportunities, who really find that large production worker concentration appealing,” he pointed out.

Health-care practitioners and technical leads the 18-county region in terms of projected growth in total employment over the next 10 years, with more than 20,000 openings and health-care support, with about 16,000 openings.

“We are experiencing more than 400 annual openings in health care,” due to retirements, turnover and new jobs, Boyarko said. Hourly wages range from $9 to $27, she said.

The report reflects a couple areas of concern, Duritsky acknowledges.

“The demographics of our workforce tend to skew slightly older than the United States as a whole,” he said. Above age 45, the numbers of workers tends to be about 5% higher than nationwide. That is due in part to the region’s industrial composition. “Still to this day, manufacturing remains the second largest sector of employment” and the occupational age in that sector “tends to skew a little higher,” he remarked.

Another issue is educational attainment. In the region, 25% of the region has a bachelor’s degree or higher, as opposed to the U.S. rate of 29%.

“That’s an important number, highly correlated with economic growth,” he said. “We’ve seen our bachelor’s-plus attainment rate growing significantly in the past couple of decades but continue to want to see that number ramp up higher.”

In the Youngstown-Warren statistical area, the percentage of those with a bachelor’s degree is 13.4% compared to 16% for the 18-county region, Boyarko said. Also the percentage of people with some college education is lower locally, 19.5%, as opposed to 21% regionally.

“That certainly indicates the need for schooling,” Boyarko said. “They’re certainly eligible to be part of the workforce but in an effort to meet demand or the needs of the business community there certainly is a need for additional schooling.” There are efforts to reach youth at the middle-school level and above as to what the expected employment opportunities are, she noted.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.