Team NEO Report: Worker Supply, Demand Gap Persists

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The gap between supply and demand for workers in northeastern Ohio remains, but some industries are seeing improvement.

Team NEO on Thursday released “Beyond the Status Quo,” its seventh Aligning Opportunities in the Northeast Ohio Region report. The report was prepared in partnership with Delta Dental and covers the 18-county region that includes Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

Information technology, health care and manufacturing continue to be the most in-demand positions.

“That’s a critical challenge we still have,” said Jacob Duritsky, vice president of research and strategy at Team NEO.

He said there have been improvements since the initial report was released seven years ago.

“More people have an understanding of the problem, and more strategies are starting to take place,” he said. 

But there’s no silver bullet, and solutions can’t be developed overnight, he said.

There has been progress in the engineering field, and there’s been growth in some areas of labor and health care.

Registered nursing remains the No. 1 in-demand occupation, and demand is high in other health care positions such as anesthesiology.

There’s been a slight slowdown in the demand for computer scientists, though. 

The report honed in on how the changing labor landscape affects workers of color, working women, workers with disabilities and veterans. Women and people of color continue to be underrepresented. 

Employment of people with disabilities and an examination of turnover are new in this year’s report, Duritsky said.

“There are higher turnover rates across just about every aspect of the workforce,” he said.

The rates compare 2018 with 2022. 

“Part of that is demographics,” Duritsky said. “We have an aging workforce. Some of that is worker dynamics, dealing with the post-pandemic.”

In addition to being underrepresented in in-demand jobs, data show that Black, Hispanic and Asian workers are overrepresented in lower-paying occupations.

The occupation with the highest concentration of Black workers is health care support. For Hispanic people, it’s farming, fishing and forestry. And for Asian people, it’s computer and mathematical professions.

“Underrepresentation of minority workers within in-demand jobs can harm a business’s ability to recruit, retain or attract workers from these populations,” the report said. 

It suggests actions to promote equity and transparency such as auditing for pay equity, auditing hiring strategies for practices that may exclude more diverse candidates or engaging with community partners that work with specific communities.

For working women, the Team NEO report cites Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers showing working women were disproportionately affected by the effects of Covid. Pre-pandemic, nearly 6 in 10 women worked in three sectors: education and health; leisure and hospitality; or retail and wholesale trade. Those sectors were hit hard by the pandemic.

Employers can attract and retain working women by offering more benefits such as medical, parenting, caregiving and deployment, the report determined.

The report found that 7% of the northeastern Ohio labor force has a disability, and there’s a 28% labor force participation rate for that group. Occupations with the highest concentrations of people with disabilities are management; office and administrative support; transportation and material moving; and sales and related.

It urges meetings with the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to learn about inclusive workforce initiatives.

With veterans, northeastern Ohio logs a 75% labor participation rate. Occupations with the highest concentrations of Gulf War-era veterans are professional and related; management/business and financial; service; and transportation and material moving.

“Engaging veteran talent means adopting strategies that target opportunities for vets to more easily access higher education, resources for living and working with a disability and matching job descriptions to military skills,” according to the report.

Since Team NEO’s first report, released in 2017, demand has increased 53% in information technology, manufacturing, health care, life sciences/education/engineering, finance and business services and management. 

It attributes that to multiple factors, including industry job growth and replacement jobs; pandemic turnover and the effects of job loss and post-Covid investment; and the evolution of company hiring practices and technologies.

Jobs in the region overall decreased by 3%, but in those in-demand occupations, they decreased by 5%, the report said.

Job openings overall increased by 7%, with a 4% increase for in-demand occupations. The turnover rate for all jobs has increased from 60% to 67% in 2022. And more than half of all in-demand occupations saw an increased turnover rate.

“Demand has increased despite a shrinking population, suggesting addressing factors affecting turnover may be only one solution to closing the gap,” the report said. 

To shrink the gap between supply and demand in the next seven years, “we must go above and beyond in building relationships within our network,” which includes northeastern Ohio talent and workforce developers, school districts, higher education, industry associations, major businesses and other stakeholders, according to the report.

Also Thursday, Cuyahoga Community College released “The Gig Workforce Isn’t Just Delivering Dinner.” 

It points to the rising percentage of the U.S. workforce, 36% in 2021, that was engaged in gig work.

“Northeast Ohio employers’ embrace of this flexibility is central to their staffing success,” the report said.

According to a 2021 Regional Employer Survey of 650 northeastern Ohio employers, a shortage of qualified candidates and high turnover were key challenges.

“Gig workers may provide at least part of the staffing solution,” the report said. “Employers that learn to tap into the region’s full talent pool and leverage the skills and availability of gig workers may set the bar for future staffing trends.”

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