Official predicts more job losses



About 9,300 jobs are expected to be lost as the area adjusts to cutbacks.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
BOARDMAN -- The job cutting in the Mahoning Valley appears far from over.
Thousands of jobs are expected to be lost this year at restaurants, retail shops and other companies, said Reid Dulberger, executive vice president of the Regional Chamber.
In all, 9,300 jobs will be lost because of cutbacks at Packard, General Motors, Forum Health and WCI Steel, he estimated.
Half of that job loss has occurred as workers left some of those large employers with buyouts or retirement incentives.
The other half is yet to come.
Chamber officials think other employers will be forced to cut back because thousands of Packard and GM workers will be spending less.
Dulberger expects that to happen later this year. Area retailers have escaped much of the impact so far because many people with the one-time incentive payments probably are spending at artificially high levels, he said.
The GM and Delphi buyouts ranged up to 140,000. WCI provided buyouts of 50,000.
Dulberger gave his assessment Wednesday after the chamber's annual economic forecast breakfast at Mr. Anthony's Banquet Centre here.
Pride in Progress program
He said the reverberating effects of cutbacks at large employers underscores the need for the chamber's five-year job creation and retention effort, called Pride in Progress.
The chamber raised 2.3 million for the program, which started in 2004.
Dulberger said the program is going reasonably well and appears to be well on its way of hitting its goal of creating 6,000 new jobs and adding 480 million in new payroll. So far, the program has assisted in creating 3,600 new jobs and 162 million in new payroll.
It already has exceeded its goal of constructing or absorbing 5 million square feet of building space.
Dulberger said one goal may not be reached -- helping to create 875 million in investment in plants and equipment. The number is at 466 million so far.
The chamber only counts programs where it had a significant impact in a project, he said. A project such as the recent 1 billion renovation of the GM plant was not counted because so many agencies were involved, he said.
Speaker at event
The keynote speaker at the breakfast was Jack Kleinhenz, chief executive of Kleinhenz & amp; Associates in Cleveland Heights and an adjunct professor of economics at Case Western Reserve University.
He said he expected the national economy to slow this year but at a rate that would provide a soft landing. He said he expected the gross domestic product to be 2.5 percent this year, compared with 3.3 percent last year.
Consumers should feel pretty good about the economy this year if current trends continue, such as a stabilization of housing starts and gas prices, he added.
The economies of Ohio and Northeast Ohio will continue to struggle and perform below national averages, however, he said. The drop in housing starts already has hurt Northeast Ohio because sales of appliances and other items that go into homes have been reduced, he said.
shilling@vindy.com

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