Some job-placement specialists are reporting growth in manufacturing jobs.
By CYNTHIA VINARSKY
VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- An Andrews Avenue metal-stamping plant that has grown its work force by 25 percent in four years is looking for more new employees now to keep up with its growing order book.
"We've seen improvements across all our markets -- heavy trucks, petrochemical, oil and gas," said Bill Kowal, president of Commercial Metal Forming.
"Things are better. Maybe not as good as they were five years ago, but better than two years ago."
Kowal said he's been adding new employees periodically, has hired about 20 since October and expects to add 10 more before the end of summer. The plant, which now employs 205, had a worker roster of 150 when Chicago-based Metal Technologies Solutions bought it four years ago from Parker Hannifin Corp. of Cleveland.
Michelle Bova, a work-force specialist for Ohio's Mahoning County One Stop, said the steady growth at Commercial Metal Forming is a reflection of a positive areawide trend.
Workers at the state's local job-placement office have been extremely busy filling openings since April, she said, and manufacturing openings are definitely on the rise.
"A lot of major companies that had done nothing for two years are starting recruiting efforts, and there are small expansion projects going on," she said.
"They're not adding 50 or 100, but they are hiring. There's usually some skill required. We're not seeing a lot of entry-level assembly jobs open."
Statistics are down
Employment statistics from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services don't reflect an increase in manufacturing jobs for the area yet, Bova explained, because the figures are skewed by summer layoffs.
WCI Steel in Warren, for example, laid off most of its 1,750 workers for several weeks this summer while a blast furnace relining project was under way.
ODJFS reports indicate 40,000 residents in the Youngstown-Warren metropolitan area worked in manufacturing jobs in June, down from 40,200 in May. Generally the most accurate numbers are about a quarter behind, she said, predicting that October figures will likely show growth in the manufacturing sector.
Manufacturers seeking new employees are also producing more business for employment agencies that handle advertising and job screening.
Seeing steady increase
Ryan Alternative Staffing has seen a steady climb in the number of manufacturing job openings, said staffing supervisor Paula Bartholdi, with the biggest increases showing up in the North Jackson, North Lima and Vienna areas.
"For confidentiality reasons we don't give out clients' names," she said. "But we've noticed things are picking up tremendously, especially in manufacturing. It started in October. Usually October, November and December are very slow for us, but it's been nonstop ever since."
Most of Ryan's manufacturing business lately has come from companies with between 200 and 300 employees looking to hire two or three new people per shift, Bartholdi said.
Employers who contact Ryan usually want to hire employees on a temporary basis at first, but Bartholdi said the jobs lead to full-time status for 75 percent to 80 percent of those hired.
Callos Personnel Services offices in Youngstown and Warren also have been placing more people in manufacturing positions lately, said Mattie Bondi, manager of the Warren operation. She's not convinced the jobs are growth-related, however.
"This time of year we're typically busy, with people changing positions, vacation coverage, some seasonal upturn in business," Bondi said. "I wish it was growth, but I can't think of a company we know that is growing."