A regional marketing group continues to see bright spots in Northeast Ohio’s economic picture, despite a steady stream of gloomy news. In two new reports, Team NEO says its efforts have added new jobs and business albeit modest, in fields it deems important to building a 21st century economy. And it projects additional growth in coming years. But at least one local economist thinks Team NEO’s findings may be overly optimistic. ideastream’s economics reporter Tasha Flournoy has more.
Team NEO says its efforts have brought 1500 new jobs and 46 million dollars in payroll to Northeast Ohio in 2007. That’s according to its recent regional impact report.
In a second report, out today, Team NEO says Northeast Ohio’s unemployment rates are leveling off, with total employment at a 6-year high last year. This quarterly report expands on previous ones, which focused on change over time using historical data, to include economic forecasting. CEO Tom Waltermire says data compiled from Moody’s economy.com shows more than 20 percent growth in manufacturing in the next ten years.
Tom Waltermire: And we also see from the Moody’s projection an even more pronounced shift from higher paying jobs being the ones that are growing rather than lower paying jobs.
But asked whether that shift is going on now, Waltermire says that’s tougher to determine. He says he’d have to do some digging, but…
Tom Waltermire: Not all these things are reported in the same kind of real time fashion as total jobs and total employment. Because people don’t report the exact occupations everybody is in the same kind of real time, almost real time fashion. I guess it’s not real time, but month to month fashion.
Waltermire says their projections show that higher-skilled labor is in demand now. But—according to their impact report—more than half of the jobs Team NEO helped add to the region were at a Lorain-based call center - jobs that are typically viewed as low-paying and less-skilled. Waltermire says even so, these jobs offer health benefits and are important customer service positions that add to the economy.
Tom Waltermire: They are very vital parts of the marketing and service packages for a lot of companies. Well, it’s important. It’s important work we all call these kinds of things frequently for help.
Economist Ziona Austrian sees the region’s economy in a slightly different light. Austrian heads up the Economic Development Center at Cleveland State University. She says the manufacturing outlook is a good indicator of an export business, but the source of the data—Moody’s Economy.com—is almost too encouraging.
Ziona Austrian: The economy.com focus in my opinion is optimistic. If you look at the performance of Northeast Ohio in the past ten years it doesn’t justify such high projected output growth in the next ten years.
An economic brief issued by Austrian’s office last year showed manufacturing remains the largest industry in the region, but it still lost a high number of jobs. The brief gives a broad overview of the region’s wage and job trends, including where in Northeast Ohio jobs are growing and what industries have the most jobs.
The university is expected to come out with a current economic brief this week.
Tasha Flournoy, 90.3.