From 2000 to 2009, manufacturing jobs in the greater Dayton area were cut in half as businesses consolidated, closed, or went overseas.
“Everything really just kinda died for us,” says Steve Staub, the head of Staub Manufacturing Solutions.
Jobs drained out of the region, around 40,000 in total, and just a few thousand have been added since 2010—not exactly a roaring comeback. But now the remaining workforce is aging, and area manufacturers are having a hard time finding young, educated workers to fill positions doing increasingly high-tech work.
Angelia Erbaugh with the Dayton Area Manufacturers Association thinks manufacturing has an image problem. She says the industry is growing, and wages average around $50,000 a year.
“We joke that there’re a lot of D words that don’t describe us anymore, like dark, dank, dirty, dangerous,” she says. “That’s just simply not true in most manufacturing today.”
On the flip side, unemployment is still high, and about 25,000 people have left the Dayton-area labor force completely: they’ve either moved away or stopped looking for work. Health and education are far outpacing manufacturing in job growth, and after a couple of strong years, manufacturers reported a slowdown in revenue growth in 2012. In other words, manufacturing may have an image problem, but parts of that are legitimate: the death of mass production in the greater Dayton area has had devastating and widespread effects.
Listen to the full story and see slides of Staub Manufacturing above, and click here for the second installment of “Future Production,” WYSO’s series on the future of manufacturing.