Where Are the Workers? Project launches website with new data and insights for Northeast Ohio

Where are the workers website

The Where Are the Workers? project launched a new website where it will publish new insights from its research.Courtesy of The Fund for Our Economic Future

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Where Are the Workers?, a multiphase project delving into the labor shortage in Northeast Ohio, has created a new website to share its findings.

The project, led by the Fund For Our Economic Future, has used surveys of both working-age adults and employers to dig deeper than standard workforce data. As the project evolves, new found information will now be posted to

For example, the Fund has used the data to estimate how many workers have quit, retired or are thinking of quitting soon across 11 counties in Northeast Ohio, from Cleveland outward to Lorain, Youngstown and Canton.

According to estimates, 408,000 people have quit their jobs in the last 12 months, and another 330,000 are planning to quit. Another 125,000 people have retired in the past two years. According to the estimates, there’s about 2.9 million people in the 11-county area over 18-years-old and just over 2 million currently in the workforce.

Just over 343,000 people say they’re not employed and not looking, out of 2.9 million people, but about 115,000 say they could be encouraged to start looking, depending on pay or if they could work from home.

The project calculated these numbers by using the survey, and extrapolating the answers across the population. The website will include these statistics and more, and lets people dig through what Where Are the Workers? has found so far.

Bethia Burke, president of the Fund, said it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic shifted attitudes about work, and that it created opposite impacts compared to one of the last major economic events, the 2008 recession.

Burke said the Great Recession caused people to stay in their jobs a long time and feel job insecurity. The pandemic has created a lot of job movement and has given many workers choices.

This is despite the pandemic creating many hardships. According to project estimates, about 630,000 people said they were laid off or lost their jobs during the pandemic, and about 180,000 of them are still out of work.

A “workers” market hasn’t been a great job market for everyone. One-in-five adults who took the survey said its has been difficult to find or keep employment in the past 12 months.

Burke said the economy didn’t fully recover from the 2001 and 2008 recessions, and that while many people have more choice about their jobs today, there’s a large group of people who have been long-term unemployed because of economic setbacks.

“There’s a lot of people who are just sidelined with no path back in,” Burke said.

The project has identified three main headlines from the survey that will be explained more through the website; compensation, culture and connection.

On compensation, employers are reporting raising wages as their most used strategy to attract workers. But two-thirds of adults surveyed said they’re making the same amount or less compared to before the pandemic.

About 52% of people said they don’t feel like they earn enough to make ends meet.

Culture was another big concern among workers, who often cited the negative work environments as a reason for quitting or switching jobs.

Connection, or a need to find meaning in work, is the third headline. The project found that people wanted their work to have meaning and that they wanted opportunities to advance.

Burke said the Fund is currently using the data, roundtables and focus groups to identify the problems affecting the labor shortage. As time goes on the Fund will share more solutions and actions employers can use as the project develops.

The Fund has been working with Team NEO, ConxusNEO, PolicyBridge and the Summit & Medina Workforce Area Council of Governments on the project, which has a multi-pronged approach. Burke said the employer roundtables have finished, and the groups are still holding focus groups with working-age adults.

Later in the year, the Fund plans to share the dataset its collected so that anyone can dig through it and find insights.

Read original release here.

McDonnell, Sean. (2022, July 1) Where Are the Workers? Project launches website with new data and insights for Northeast Ohio.  Retrieved from