Outsourcing-related jobless aid tumbles: Report on Ohio credits jobs in manufacturing

Columbus Dispatch - October 16, 2012

Mark Williams

The number of Ohio workers awarded federal aid because their jobs were shipped overseas or lost to imports tumbled to a six-year low in 2011, according to a report released yesterday.

A turnaround in manufacturing was given at least some of the credit for the improvement.

The report found that aid for 3,103 workers was approved in 2011 under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, down from at least 14,000 workers in each of the previous three years and the lowest since 2005, Policy Matters Ohio said in the report.

The report’s author, Hannah Halbert, said she was surprised at the 78 percent decrease last year.

“To see this kind of drop is great news for the state,” she said, especially given that Ohio has lost 320,000 manufacturing jobs since 2001.

There was not only a big decline in the number of workers who received help last year, but also a drop in the number of companies they worked for — to 57 from 177 in 2010.

The results were stronger than the national figures, which showed the number of workers eligible for benefits dropped by two-thirds.

The report noted a gain of 48,000 manufacturing jobs in Ohio since the recession ended in 2009 and said that outsourcing appears to be affecting smaller companies along with fewer workers at larger companies, suggesting that the effect of trade may be hitting some sort of bottom, the report said.

The report also noted that confusion about eligibility requirements, which changed three times in 2011, could have been a factor in the drop.

Under the federal program, workers who have lost their jobs because of trade may be eligible for several benefits, including extended unemployment payments and job-training assistance. The program was set up by Congress to offset job losses tied to agreements that reduce trade barriers between the U.S. and other countries.

All applications for aid must be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The reduction in the number of workers receiving benefits reflects the number of mass layoffs in Ohio, which also have been falling, said Benjamin Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

“It’s another sign that the economy is improving,” he said of the Policy Matters report.

Despite the gains in manufacturing jobs since the recession ended, nearly all the workers who lost their jobs in 2011 because of trade were in manufacturing, according to the report. Some service jobs also were lost to outsourcing.

The report comes as the state and its workers depend more heavily on exports.

Ohio says its exports rank ninth among the states, valued at $46.4 billion in 2011, up 12 percent from 2010.

A report last month from the federal government found that export-supported jobs linked to manufacturing account for 7.1 percent of Ohio’s total private-sector employment and that more than a quarter of the state’s manufacturing workers depend on exports for their jobs.

Outsourcing-related jobless aid tumbles: Report on Ohio credits jobs in manufacturing 

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