Thomas Steel Strip Corp. has hired six this year at its Warren Township plant. The new workers aren't increasing the work force because they're replacing older workers who have retired, but it at least sends a signal the pressure to cut jobs is easing.
Starr Manufacturing Inc. in Vienna recently received a $75,800 state grant to train workers to make parts for equipment that turn grasses, waste products and other biomass into biofuel - part of the blossoming "green" energy movement.
Other area employers, including manufacturers like the RG Steel mill south of Warren, are in the market for workers.
Tribune Chronicle / Larry Ringler
Longtime Thomas Steel Strip Corp. worker Virgil Houser of Gustavus operates the main controls of the 128 mill, considered the ‘‘heart’’ of the Warren Township plant that makes steel strips for battery casings, vehicle tubing and shotgun shell bases, among other products.
It all adds up to signs of life, however tentative, in the long-suffering industrial sector that give hope despite the area's worst unemployment rate of the year in July.
"We're starting to see a little bit of an upswing" in hiring, noticeable in manufacturing, said Frank Flaminio, supervisor at the Trumbull County office of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. "Some people are starting to see orders increasing, so they need to start gearing up. These are the good-paying jobs we need."
The July unemployment numbers didn't give cause for much optimism. Warren's unemployment rate hit 12 percent, and Trumbull County's rate touched 10.2 percent, both highs for the year.
The rates, however, were better than the year-ago numbers of 12.5 percent for Warren and 11.4 percent for the county, running the string of year-over-year improvement to 19 months for the city and 16 for the county.
July employment for making vehicles, appliances and other durable goods in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman Metropolitan Statistical Area rose 1,500 since January to 26,500.
Manufacturing showed strength in Ohio, as average weekly hours climbed 2.4 hours in July from the previous year to 40.2, while average weekly earnings gained about $54 to almost $1,000.
The local metro area, however, saw the average weekly wage across all sectors fall to $680.30 from $702.33. Average weekly work hours dropped to 34.1 from 34.7.
Three other local economic indicators also continued to improve, although at an uneven pace.
Consumers kept retailers, restaurants and other merchants busy in May, generating $1.87 million in sales tax revenue for Trumbull County. Tax receipts in May 2010 were $1.71 million and $1.68 in April of this year.
The numbers reflect the actual month of sales. The county got the money in August from the state, which collected it in June. Sales tax revenue covers about 40 percent of the county's budget.
New-auto sales, which contribute sales tax dollars, slipped in July to 1,999 from 2,217 in June but were better than 1,901 in July 2010.
Used-vehicle sales of 3,172, however, fell from both a year ago (3,398) and the previous month (3,449).
Home sales improved to 110 from 103 the year before but fell from 139 in June. The median price strengthened to $76,500 from $47,500 a year ago and $63,600 in June.