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Ohio Auto Workers Making Less Money, Study Finds

Manufacturing is coming back to Ohio, although the jobs are coming in something of a trickle and there are still far fewer than there were before the Recession.

Plus, the jobs themselves are different: many companies are actually paying less for the same work. Auto parts manufacturing has been an area of particularly steep declines: median earnings in Ohio fell nearly 10 percent from 2001 to 2013, with even lower wages for new hires.

WYSO talked to Cathy Ruckelshaus of the National Employment Law Project (NELP, a left-leaning organization based in New York that group published a study late last year called “Manufacturing Low Pay.”  

In addition to finding lower median wages for auto workers in many states, the study finds increased use of temp and staffing agencies, which tends to obscure information about wages and benefits. To the extent that information is available, NELP finds staffing agencies are often used to shield companies from responsibility for providing even lower-quality jobs in the auto industry.

Ruckelshaus points out that many states, including Ohio, still subsidize these kinds of jobs on the assumption that they are better than minimum wage jobs, and that manufacturing helps grow local economies in multiple ways. She and NELP question the wisdom of those subsidies, advocating at least that state and local governments should require transparency about pay and benefits and push companies to pay more.


A recent local example is the case of Fuyao Glass America, a Chinese auto glass company that's opening up shop in Moraine in the old GM plant. Average wages are lower than they were in the age of GM, but many are happy to see potentially thousands of jobs flowing back into the area. The company has received millions in subsidies from the state to convince it to come here, and some experts say international businesses are moving manufacturing to the U.S. precisely because of the downward push on wages and decline of unions. Still, Fuyao says it will pay workers a living wage well above the minimum, with benefits.