Manufacturing is still the backbone of Ohio

In Ohio, October brings a lot to look forward to: fall colors, pumpkins, apple orchards, Friday night lights and, of course, manufacturing month.

Earlier this year, I was elected by industry peers to chair the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA). As an executive with Whirlpool Corp., which has approximately 9,600 employees at its five manufacturing facilities in Ohio, I am honored to lead this 111-year-old organization.

Chairing the OMA provides an opportunity to speak about the importance of manufacturing and what the industry means to Buckeye State in terms of opportunity and quality of life.

Manufacturing statistics for Ohio

Now that Manufacturing Month has arrived, it’s time to remind fellow Ohioans – especially those in middle school, high school, and college, as well as workers looking for new opportunities – why manufacturing remains the backbone of Ohio. Among the many reasons are the following:

1. Ohio is the third largest manufacturing state in terms of jobs and economic output.

2. Even in the midst of the pandemic, Ohio manufacturers still provide more than 660,000 jobs to Ohioans.

3. In 2019, Ohio manufacturing jobs paid an average of nearly $ 63,000 (this number is arguably higher in 2021) – while still providing the opportunity to advance and earn much more.

4. Manufacturing provides Ohioans with more than $ 44 billion in total wages, more than any other industry.

5. Ohio manufacturers produce goods for the world, with $ 45 billion in products exported to more than 200 countries and territories.

In recent years, some have wrongly downplayed the importance of American manufacturing. But the past year and a half has demonstrated that a vibrant manufacturing sector is imperative for the financial well-being, health and national security of our state (and our nation).

According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), for every dollar of manufacturing value added, an additional $ 2.79 of economic activity is generated elsewhere in the economy. For every manufacturing job, another 3.4 jobs are created in non-manufacturing industries.

On its own, manufacturing in the United States would be the world’s eighth largest economy.

Despite these impressive numbers, labor shortages and declining labor market participation are major concerns for the industry. At the last check, listed nearly 235,000 jobs available statewide. Almost 30,000 of those jobs were in manufacturing.

Working overtime to modernize the way we develop a workforce

That’s why Buckeye State manufacturers, along with their partners, are working overtime to modernize the way Ohio develops its manufacturing workforce. We execute several strategies, including:

Establish a statewide network of industry partnerships, led by manufacturers who work together to promote local manufacturing careers and address regional workforce challenges.

Broaden opportunities to earn and learn, such as apprenticeships – and seek to employ populations that have traditionally been under-represented in the industry.

Educate students, parents, and career-changing people about high-paying jobs in modern manufacturing, using tools such as

The good news is that Ohio has a solid foundation and solid support to move these workforce efforts forward. DeWine-Husted administration and key members of the General Assembly have played a strategic role in funding industry-recognized credentials through programs like TechCred –– which have significantly boosted the workforce qualified from Ohio.

Additionally, Ohio has established a strong manufacturing training infrastructure with more than two dozen community colleges and more than 50 career technology centers for high school students.

When it comes to manufacturing workforce development, Ohio is a national leader.

I invite all Ohioans to celebrate Manufacturing Month by talking to your local manufacturers and exploring the many opportunities they offer. Plus, encourage young people you know to explore manufacturing careers that interest and challenge them.

Ohioans wanting to learn more about the workforce challenge should consider attending the Ohio Manufacturers Workforce Summit on October 27-28. This entirely virtual summit will take place over two half-days. The public is invited to participate.

Dale Laws is president of the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association and vice president of manufacturing, laundry and dishwasher operations at Whirlpool Corp.

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