Butler County among nation’s best: Manufacturing jobs far outpace national trends

While manufacturing jobs have dropped dramatically this century across the country, they have grown in Butler County at more than triple the rate of the nation overall, a Journal-News analysis of federal data found.

One reason for Butler County’s success is the current diversity of manufacturing companies in the county — some with very interesting and in-demand products. Newer companies also have moved in or expanded. Some older manufacturers, such as AK Steel (now owned by Cleveland-Cliffs), have also continued to do well, which led to job growth.

In 2010, as the recession continued, Butler County had 19,377 manufacturing jobs. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, those jobs grew 23 percent from then to 23,834 jobs in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic struck.

In 2020, that number slipped 3.3 percent to 23,055 jobs, but it was still 19 percent higher than the 2010 level. Observers believe companies will add employees again as the COVID-19 pandemic eases.

By comparison to Butler County’s growth, U.S. manufacturing jobs have increased 5.6 percent since 2010.

Butler County in 2020 also had 10.9 percent more manufacturing jobs than it did in 2001, when there were 20,786. By comparison, the country overall lost 25.9 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 2001.

Manufacturing has made local news for a few reasons recently. Among them, companies have been hiring, and advertising needs for more workers.

Fast-growing Spain-based Saica Group, which manufactures boxes from recycled paper, recently began advertising a variety of positions for its Hamilton facility, which will be the first in this country.

Thyssenkrupp Bilstein, which makes automotive precision-tuned shock absorbers in Hamilton, including for racing vehicles, and also manufactures military equipment, has recently used a decorated truck parked in front of the city-government tower to let people know job interviews were available.

“Manufacturers seem to be recovering, and now they are high-tech,” said Dan Bates, president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “And they are starting to attract and recruit people with all the new manufacturing processes.”

Kert Radel, president and CEO of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, said two companies now are planning significant expansions: Pacific Manufacturing, which makes parts for cars, and Art Metals, which creates complicated custom stampings, thrust bearings and assemblies.

Why the increased manufacturing jobs?

“I think a lot of that is going from the governor all the way to the local city governments,” Radel said. “They’re doing their very best to retain the manufacturing companies and make Ohio and their particular cities attractive to be able to come here.”

Here are some Butler County companies and products they make:

  • iMFLUX in Hamilton created injection molding processes that changed the way such things a sneakers and many other products are made.
  • Magnode in Trenton makes components for Teslas and electric Mercedes.
  • Synergy Flavors in Hamilton creates a wide variety of flavors, including for baked goods, dairy products, beverages, plus herb and botanical essences.
  • Totes Isotoner Corp. in West Chester makes of rain products, including umbrellas, boots, jackets and bags.
  • Western States Machine in Fairfield makes large centrifuges that are shipped around the world for the sugar industry to refine sugar.
  • AK Steel and its research center in Middletown remain a critical part of Cleveland-Cliffs steelmaking, the company said in its 2020 annual report: “We fully understand that to maintain and expand our leadership status in this industry, we must be the technological leader as well,” the Cleveland-Cliffs report stated.
  • O’Gara Armoring in Fairfield makes and installs armored products in vehicles and other things for the military and commercial use.
  • DBS Stainless Steel Fabricators not only creates custom kitchens, tables and appliances for commercial and residential uses, but worked last year to install sneeze and breath guards at places like Kings Island during he pandemic.
  • 80 Acres Farms in Hamilton grows crops completely indoors, using industrial processes and special lighting and creation of specific climate conditions.
  • VPcabs Virtual Pinball, also known as virtualpinball.com, makes electronic pinball games in the building behind where its Hamilton bar, Pinball Garage.

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