News Column

Large Employers See Little Growth Overall in Summit

Feb 18, 2013

Katie Byard, The Akron Beacon Journal

Summit County's largest employer, Summa Health System, continued to add to its payroll in 2012, gaining more than 400 employees.

Employment at Summa -- including Akron City, Barberton and St. Thomas hospitals -- reached nearly 7,000 by the end of the year, according to the Beacon Journal's annual largest-employer survey. Summa also includes SummaCare insurance, a physician group and other businesses.

Summa -- in addition to being the No. 1 employer in Summit County -- is among the top 20 employers in Northeast Ohio. That should be no surprise as state figures show that the biggest employment sector in the area is health care and social assistance.

Two other health-care employers -- Akron General Health System and Akron Children's Hospital -- also are on the Beacon Journal's list of largest employers.

The Beacon Journal's survey and state job-count figures also reveal:

--Total employment at Summit's 18 largest public and private-sector employers grew little last year, increasing by fewer than 500 workers, or roughly 1 percent.

--Overall employment in the county totaled 257,014 workers for the second quarter of 2012. That was down about 3,000 employees from the 254,005 in the second quarter of 2011.

--The ranks of government sector workers continued to shrink, according to figures from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. However, the Beacon Journal's survey shows the city of Akron and Summit County government shed relatively few workers last year. The number of full-time employees working for the city dropped by 15, and the number of full-time equivalent employees working for Summit County departments declined by 12. In 2011, the county payroll dropped by more than 200 workers and city employment declined by about 200.

--Acme Fresh Markets saw one of the biggest percentage increases -- about 7 percent -- in employment last year. Acme officials suggested the increase was due in part to the grocery store chain adding two state liquor agencies to its operations, as well as draft beer at six locations. Additionally, the employment numbers for 2011 and 2012 might have been gathered at different times of the year, the officials said.

--Employment numbers for Summa and Akron General reflect the payroll at the end of 2012 and therefore do not include layoffs that were announced earlier this year.

--Goodyear remained the county's largest manufacturer, primarily because of the number of white-collar employees at its corporate campus, rather than the number of blue-collar workers. Goodyear provided the same estimate of employees -- 3,000 -- that it has since at least 2007.

--The names on the list of the county's largest employers were unchanged from a year ago, with the exception of FirstMerit Corp. The bank is not included this year because it declined to break out employment totals just in Summit County. The bank, with branches in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois, provided a total employment number of 2,724. FirstMerit will add more branches in Michigan as part of a pending merger with Citizens Republic Bancorp of Michigan. (There was a drop-off of a longtime company on the list when Chrysler closed its Twinsburg Stamping Plant in 2010 as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.)

--Various national companies boast a large number of workers in Summit, but they are not on the Beacon Journal list, which ranks employers with 1,000 or more workers. Bridgestone Americas Inc. employed 845 people in 2011 (982 including contractors) at its Akron complex. Figures for 2012 were not immediately available. Bridgestone Americas is a division of Bridgestone Corp., based in Tokyo, Japan.

Source: (c)2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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