By Karl Henkel
The Mahoning Valley recently has experienced steady growth in employment, sales-tax revenue and new investments.
Though it still lags behind many other metropolitan areas across the nation, the Valley can hang its work hat on one statistic: No other metro area posted stronger export growth than Youngstown from 2009 to 2010.
The area’s export growth rate grew by 30 percent during that time, according to a report released Thursday by Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.
The Youngstown-Boardman-Warren metro area also is one of 11 metro areas that will meet President Barack Obama’s goal to double exports nationwide.
Exports originating from the Valley totaled $2.9 billion, which put the area 75th in total export value among the top 100 metro areas.
That value, however, made up 15 percent of the Valley’s total economy.
There are nearly 19,000 export-related jobs in the Valley.
Metal products made up 27 percent of all Valley exports at a value of $800 million.
Nonferrous metals, which are produced at local shops such as RTI International Metals in Niles, made up three-quarters of all metal exports.
The Valley exported $151.1 million of nonferrous — or metals that don’t contain iron — to the United Kingdom and $97.2 million to Switzerland.
Canada ($46.1 million), Mexico ($45.9 million) and China ($43.6 million) were other high-export destinations.
Transportation equipment (20 percent, $590 million), machinery (9.6 percent, $280 million), travel and tourism (4.7 percent, $140 million) and petroleum and coal products (4.6 percent, $130 million) made up the top five export categories.
The Valley has a disproportional breakdown of export composition when compared with the rest of the nation.
In America, two-thirds of exports are goods-related; the other third is service-related.
But in the Youngstown metro area, 82 percent is goods-related; 18 percent is service-related.
The Valley’s recognition is another piece of positive news for the area economically.
In 2011, the area was the fastest-growing region in Ohio among the top 100 metro areas.
The area’s unemployment rate is still 8.5 percent, higher than the national average but 2 percent lower than a year ago.