Wage rise in October highest in seven years

Lula Shumard and others take calls at Barclaycard’s facility inside Vora Technology Park in Hamilton. Barclaycard is one of several Butler County businesses that added to the more than 161,000 jobs created in October nationwide, a month in which the unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.9 percent. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Caption
Lula Shumard and others take calls at Barclaycard’s facility inside Vora Technology Park in Hamilton. Barclaycard is one of several Butler County businesses that added to the more than 161,000 jobs created in October nationwide, a month in which the unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.9 percent. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Butler County adding hundreds of new jobs in 20116, expecting more in 2017.

Just as wages rise from a tighter job market nationally, one staffing firm owner says area employers are waging a talent war for qualified, willing workers.

In the final federal monthly jobs report before Tuesday’s presidential election, officials said 161,000 jobs were created in October and the unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.9 percent.

Perhaps the biggest news: Average hourly earnings for private-sector workers rose 2.8 percent over a year ago, the strongest annual wage growth in more than seven years.

Doug Barry, owner of staffing firm BarryStaff, said a tight employment market is pushing wages up.

“Companies are competing for the people who are working, and they’re having to offer higher wages,” Barry said.

And in many cases, employers are paying more to retain good workers, Barry said. “It’s a competitive job market now. As they say, it’s an employees’ market.”

This year has been a good one overall for Butler County businesses, including Hamilton, where significant expansions and hiring blitzes at Barclaycard, Startek, ThyssenKrupp Bilstein and ODW Logistics will have contributed more than 800 jobs to the city in 2016 alone, according to Brandon Saurber, Hamilton’s director of strategy and information.

The city expects to see an additional 1,000 jobs from those four companies in 2017, Saurber said.

As of Oct. 31, total wages paid by Hamilton employers have increased by around $40 million in 2016 compared with 2015, he said. Those gross wages are expected to top $1 billion annually in the first half of 2017.

“With the number of job opportunities expanding, our number one priority now is to get as many Hamiltonians as possible into these jobs,” said Jody Gunderson, Hamilton’s director of economic development.

Middletown’s economic development team has conducted approximately 75 business retention and expansion visits this year with others scheduled, according to Alexis Fitzsimmons, assistant economic development director.

“Every employer we have talked to has had steady or increasing numbers at their facilities,” Fitzsimmons said. “There are two employers in town that plan to expand their operations in the coming year due to new business lines and several that have excess capacity and are growing organically through existing customers.”

Beyond growth in Middletown’s industrial economic base, the city also has seen growth in its retail sector through new investments, such as the new Buffalo Wild Wings and Aspen Dental on the outskirts of Towne Mall Galleria.

“This is a trend we will continue to see as interest in the Middletown market continues to grow,” Fitzsimmons said.

Any job loss noted would probably be within the re-aligning retail sector, as Middletown continues to swap out large retail with smaller, locally derived experiences, said Matt Eisenbraun, the city’s assistant economic development director.

Greg Kathman, Fairfield’s development services director, said many business leaders have talked about the jobs that have been added or need to be added to keep up with recent growth.

“Just driving around town, you can see a lot of Now Hiring signs in business front yards,” Kathman said.

Fairfield companies that have shown job growth include Veritiv, which completed its move of more than 400 employees into Fairfield within the past few weeks, as well as Koch Foods, which has grown to more than 1,000 employees, with more expected to be added in 2017.

Pacific Manufacturing is constructing a $50 million expansion that will result in at least 62 jobs added to the 540 existing jobs, and CompuCom recently moved into a new building in Fairfield, bringing more than 100 information technology jobs. Element Materials Technology consolidated several local operations into Fairfield earlier this year, with 120 total jobs now at this facility.

West Chester Twp. added 853 new jobs and retained 1,259 jobs so far in 2016, according to township officials.

West Chester lost Bakery Craft, with 119 employees but that relocation was offset when Ohio Eagle Distributing purchased the Bakery Craft building and added 85 new jobs back to West Chester.

West Chester has used expansion announcements to track 71 companies adding new positions so far this year and 36 retaining existing positions through new investments in 2016.

“West Chester continues to see new investment in targeted sectors, including corporate headquarters, advanced manufacturing and information technology, as well as dynamic retail and hospitality development, specifically in the Streets of West Chester and in the area anchored by West Chester Hospital and Voice of America,” said township Administrator Judi Boyko.

“Nearly $56 million has been invested in West Chester so far this year as companies continue to find value in West Chester’s diverse local economy,” Boyko said.

In Liberty Twp., the burgeoning Butler County community has added about 25 new businesses this year, according to Caroline McKinney, the township’s economic development director.

With the opening of Cincinnati Children’s Proton Therapy Center and the addition of 100 jobs there, Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus has grown to 650 employees after starting out with 390 in 2008.

Also adding to job growth in the township next year will be continued retail and business growth at Liberty Center and the scheduled opening of The Christ Hospital Medical Center later that year.

“We anticipate continuing the positive momentum we’re seeing in Liberty Twp. as we head toward 2017,” McKinney said.


By the numbers

2.8 percent: Wage growth from October 2015 to October 2016.

191,000: Revised number of new jobs created in September, an increase from 156,000 that was reported earlier.

161,000: Number of non-farm jobs created in October.

4.9 percent: October unemployment rate, down from 5 percent in September.

7.8 million: Number of jobless in the U.S., a figure that includes 2 million who have been without a job for more than 27 weeks.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics