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Five Things to Know About Ohio Manufacturing

Posted by IndustrySelect on Monday, May 4, 2020

African-American factory worker in safety glasses and work gloves measures a board on a table

As the nation slowly begins to reopen from coronavirus lockdown, the state of Ohio is among the first to reopen its manufacturing sector. Governor Matt DeWine has laid out a structured reopening plan called "Responsible Restart Ohio," allowing manufacturing companies to reopen May 4th, provided they follow strict measures to ensure staff safety. 

If the Buckeye State is on your sales radar, we're providing some in-depth knowledge of its industrial sector. Having a deep understanding of your market is an essential facet of a successful sales strategy. For those looking to do business with Ohio manufacturers, IndustrySelect’s database of 400,000 U.S. manufacturers contains a vast amount of hand-verified data to help users understand their market and drill down to a list of prospects.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at Ohio’s manufacturing sector and sharing some essential insights provided to us by the state’s manufacturing companies.

Here are five things to know about Ohio’s manufacturing sector right now:

1. Ohio Lost Manufacturing Jobs for a Second Straight Year

Ohio is currently home to 15,579 manufacturers employing 892,378, according to MNI, compiler of the industrial data that powers IndustrySelect.

MNI reports that over the past year, Ohio manufacturers shed 1,771 jobs or less than one percent.

This represents the second year in a row that Ohio has lost manufacturing jobs, following a seven-year winning streak during which the state added nearly 40,000 jobs from 2012 to 2018.

Hiring in the U.S. manufacturing sector has eased back in the past year, as a slowing global economy and uncertainty over tariffs continue to impact new orders and exports.

Central to the struggles manufacturers face, however, is a persistent worker shortage. A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found there are nearly a half-million unfilled manufacturing positions in the U.S. 

Companies and agencies that offer staffing, recruiting, training or workforce development may find greater demand for their services in states like Ohio.

2. Some Key Ohio Industries Are Still Adding Jobs

A slowdown in the U.S. auto sector has hit Ohio hard, while tariffs continue to put a dent in some durable goods industries like fabricated metals and industrial machinery.

However, a number of sub-industries are still growing in Ohio. These generally fall into the non-durable goods category, or “soft” goods.

According to data collected by MNI, employment in Ohio’s transportation industry fell 3% in 2020, while its two largest sectors: industrial machinery and fabricated metals, barely budged in terms of job growth.

A number of manufacturing sub-sectors broke this downward trend, including rubber/plastics; primary metals; instruments/related products; stone/clay/glass; textiles/apparel; and lumber/wood.

Manufacturing job gains in Ohio over the last year were led by textiles/apparel, which grew by 4.3%, while medical instruments/related products grew 2.8%, Employment in the rubber & plastics sector, which ranks fourth in the state for number of jobs, edged up 1.2% in 2020.

Other Ohio industries gaining jobs included:

• Stone/Clay/Glass: 2.5%.
• Lumber/Wood: up 2%
• Primary Metals: up 1.8%

Ohio Industries losing jobs included:

• Printing/publishing: down 4.9%
• Transportation equipment: down 3%
• Electronics: down 2.1%

Ohio’s largest industries:

1. Industrial Machinery: 146,257 jobs
2. Fabricated Metals: 107,291 jobs
3. Transportation Equipment: 87,587 jobs
4. Rubber/Plastics: 85,203 jobs
5. Food Processing: 73,875 jobs

3. Some of Ohio's Smaller Cities Are Adding Manufacturing Jobs

Northeast Ohio is the state’s manufacturing epicenter, accounting for 37% of workers. Southwest Ohio accounts for 24.3% of the state’s industrial jobs, Northwest and South Central Ohio account for 15% and 10%, respectively. North Central Ohio is home to 9.5% of the state’s jobs, while Southeast Ohio accounts for 3.3%.

Most of Ohio’s largest industrial cities saw a decrease in manufacturing jobs, but Toledo surprised in 2020 with a 1% increase in jobs. Canton also added jobs, up 5.3%, as did Findlay, up 2.7%.

Top Industrial Cities in Ohio

1. Cincinnati: 70,659 jobs
2. Cleveland: 56,652 jobs
3. Columbus: 40,727 jobs
4. Dayton: 25,543 jobs
5. Toledo: 21,071 jobs

4. Ohio is Home to a Large Number of Manufacturing Headquarters

Taking a look at the advanced criteria available in the IndustrySelect database, we found multiple manufacturing companies are headquartered in Ohio. Manufacturing headquarters make up 5.4% of the companies in the Ohio database, compared to the U.S. as a whole, in which 4.3% of industrial companies are listed as manufacturing headquarters.

Additionally, IndustrySelect’s Ohio database finds there are 54,607 manufacturing executives in the state, including 9,025 presidents, 3,606 owners/partners and 5,384 vice-presidents.

Other items, based on data available to IndustrySelect subscribers:

• 1.8% of Ohio manufactures are women-owned
• 0.5% are minority-owned
• 9% are publicly-owned companies

5. Ohio Manufacturers are Vulnerable to Tariffs

Ohio manufacturers have their eye on global conditions. According to IndustrySelect data, 13% of Ohio’s manufacturers import raw materials in order to produce their final goods, while 28% distribute their products internationally.

Ohio is a top exporter of goods, shipping $52 billion worth of products throughout the world, with Canada, Mexico, China and the U.K. as the state’s top export markets. Ohio exports fell between 2018 and 2019 to the tune of $1.4 billion. The current tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese-made goods have impacted prices and caused uncertainty in the sector.


Ohio manufacturing companies shed jobs over the past two years as a slowing auto sector, uncertainty over tariffs and lukewarm global demand continue to plague the sector. Ohio manufacturers in major durable goods categories like transportation equipment and industrial machinery are seeing the most negative impact, while some of the state’s softer goods producing industries like plastics and lumber/wood have added jobs.

Ohio’s manufacturers continue to face a skilled labor shortage, providing opportunities for staffing agencies, HR services and insurance companies, just to name a few.

Cincinnati is still the state’s top industrial center, but don’t overlook growth markets in Toledo and Canton. Tariffs are a challenge for Ohio manufacturers and may impact investment decisions.

Ready to Build a List of Ohio Manufacturing Prospects?

If you are looking to sell to Ohio manufacturers, an IndustrySelect subscription can put you on a first-name basis with Ohio’s nearly 16,000 industrial companies and 54,000 executives.

Subscribers can select up to 30 data points on any manufacturing company in the U.S. to help identify or pre-qualify leads. Company profiles also include the contact information for hard-to-find executive decision-makers.

Click here for pricing on an Ohio database subscription, or if you want see what IndustrySelect can do for you, try out our free demo!





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