Ohio has long been a stronghold for manufacturing in the U.S. While other sectors struggle in the state, manufacturing is still showing signs of growth – but that’s not quite the whole story.

According to research compiled by IndustrySelect, Ohio is currently home to over 15,000 manufacturing companies, employing nearly 900,000 people between them. The industrial machinery industry is the state’s largest manufacturing sector, employing 17% of the manufacturing workforce. 12% are employed in the fabricated metal products niche, and 11% manufacture transportation equipment. The top five manufacturing sectors are rounded out by rubber and miscellaneous plastic products (9% of Ohio’s industrial workforce) and food products (8% of manufacturing jobs).

IndustrySelect’s research also notes the ratio of leadership and executive roles to other workers in Ohio’s manufacturing sector. As of their most recent count, there are 56,333 “executive contacts” among Ohio’s manufacturing companies: 8,884 presidents, 4,025 owners and/or partners, 5,279 vice presidents, and 6,501 sales, marketing and purchasing executives.

Still, Ohio has been experiencing something of a good-news/bad-news dichotomy in recent months. The Columbus Dispatch reported in September 2022 that Ohio employers cut the most jobs of any state that month, slashing a net 7,600 jobs from the workforce. At that point, the state needed to add around 133,000 new jobs in order to get back to pre-pandemic 2020 levels. However, several large companies – including Intel, Ford, and Honda – have announced plans to open facilities in Ohio, bringing jobs in manufacturing, tech, and more to the state. Plus, manufacturing actually showed up as a bright spot in that tepid jobs report: it added around 8,700 jobs, pushing the sector almost to its pre-pandemic employment level.

Ohio is struggling, like many other states, with a lower-than-needed labor force participation rate. Despite plenty of job openings, Ohio has struggled to fill those roles and improve the labor supply shortage. While manufacturing remains one of the few sectors in the state that is still booming, recession worries, plus the rise of more high-tech and automated jobs, signal concern on the horizon for them as well. Manufacturing companies looking to fill critical roles will need to re-evaluate their employee value propositions – and even seek guidance from recruiting experts – to convince workers to join their teams.