MANSFIELD — North central Ohio’s job base is growing — but at a snail’s pace compared to the rest of Ohio.
A News Journal investigation surveyed changes in the area’s employment base over 40 years, and projected trends.
Total employment is expected to increase 0.4 percent between 2008 and 2018 across the North Central Ohio Economic Development Region, which includes Richland, Crawford and seven surrounding counties, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and its “2018 Ohio Job Outlook,” issued last summer.
Yet that figure is nearly the lowest end of the state’s growth spectrum. Projected growth rates for all 12 economic development regions across Ohio range anywhere from 0.3 to 5.8 percent.
A look back at the past 40 years reveals illuminating changes in the community’s employment base:
The average weekly wage across Richland County in 1990 was $410 or $21,342 annually.
By 2010, average weekly wage across Richland County was $637 or $33,103 annually. That didn’t quite keep pace with inflation — since the 1990 average, translated to the same buying power today, would amount to a $35,606 salary today.
Who are the highest paid groups of workers in Richland County?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, federal government workers were the highest wage earners in 2010 (the latest full year available), with an average annual salary of $55,126 annually. State government workers were next highest-paid, at $51,743, followed by manufacturing workers, at $45,393.
The lowest-paid workers in Richland County tended to be those employed in the leisure and hospitality industry, which includes some seasonal jobs ($12,262); natural resources and mining ($19,710); and professional and business services ($25,101). Those numbers come from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The number of companies providing services in Richland County — anything from retail to banking to transportation to hospitality — grew 8 percent over the past two decades, from 2,066 to 2,233 businesses.
However, workers employed in those sectors didn’t fare as well:
The number of people employed by local service-providing companies dropped 7 percent, from 34,336 to 32,010.
The average annual salary for service workers here plummeted in comparison to inflation. While the average salary rose from $19,368 to $27,227 (in real dollars), service workers’ 1990 earnings would have had to rise to $32,313 just to keep pace.
The figures both for Richland County’s manufacturing and service sectors may reflect a shift toward more part-time workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ quarterly census of earnings and wages includes part-time workers as well as full-timers.
The service sector has dominated Richland County’s total employment base throughout the past two decades:
In 1990, service workers earned a total of $665 million here — nearly twice the $379 million earned in manufacturing.
Twenty years later, service was still comparatively as dominant. Jobs in the service sector in 2010 produced $871 million in wages, nearly twice the $395 million earned in manufacturing.
(However, translated into 2010 dollars, the earnings figures from 1990 would amount to $1.11 billion in the service sector and $632.3 million in manufacturing).
Despite losses in the number of plants, manufacturing still plays a larger role in Richland County’s employment base than it does in many other locations.
As of 2011, 20.35 percent of all workers here who weren’t in government, the military or self-employed worked in manufacturing. That was much higher than the statewide figure, 15.0 percent, and was double the U.S. average, 10.8 percent.
But the figure for Richland County ten years prior was 30.1 percent.