An Ohio Factory Owner Is Eager To Hire Workers, There Is Just One Problem...

In April, the Fed's otherwise boring Beige Book revealed a striking anecdote about the current state of the US labor market: as the Boston Fed commented at the time, the qualified labor shortage had gotten so bad, that the hit rate on hiring after a simple math and drug test, has collapsed below 50%. To wit:

Labor markets in the First District continued to tighten somewhat. Many employers sought to add modestly to head counts (although one manufacturer laid off about 4 percent of staff over the last year), while wage increases were modest. Some smaller retailers noted increasing labor costs, in part driven by increases in state minimum wages being implemented over a multi-year period. Restaurant contacts, particularly in heavy tourism regions, expressed concern about possible labor shortages this summer, exacerbated by an expected slowdown in granting H-2B visas. Half of contacted manufacturers were hiring, though none in large numbers; several firms said it was hard to find workers.


One respondent said that during a recent six-month attempt to add to staff for a new product, two-thirds of applicants for assembly line jobs were screened out before hiring via math tests and drug tests; of 400 workers hired, only 180 worked out.

Fast forward to today when we have a practical example of how severe this quandary has become for employers. 

According to WTVR, an Ohio factory owner said on Saturday that although she has numerous blue-collar jobs available at her company, she struggles to fill positions because so many candidates fail drug tests. Regina Mitchell, co-owner of Warren Fabricating & Machining in Hubbard, Ohio, told The New York Times this week that four out of 10 applicants otherwise qualified to be welders, machinists and crane operators will fail a routine drug test. While not quite as bad as the adverse hit rate hinted at by the Beige Book, this is a stunning number, and one which indicates of major structural changes to the US labor force where addiction and drugs are keeping millions out of gainful (or any, for that matter) employment.

Speaking to CNN’s Michael Smerconish, Mitchell said that her requirements for prospective workers were simple: “I need employees who are engaged in their work while here, of sound mind and doing the best possible job that they can, keeping their fellow co-workers safe at all times,” she said.

This has proven to be a problem.

“We have a 150-ton crane in our machine shop. And we’re moving 300,000 pounds of steel around in that building on a regular basis. So I cannot take the chance to have anyone impaired running that crane, or working 40 feet in the air.”

While President Trump addressed his blue-collar base in Ohio this week, returning to his campaign theme of getting local communities back to work and returning jobs to America from overseas, the problem may not be a scarcity of jobs: it is workers who are not under the influence. As Mitchell said she has jobs... she just doesn’t have sober applicants. For 48 of the 50 years her company has been around, drug abuse had never been an issue, she told Smerconish.

“It hasn’t been until the last two years that we needed to have a policy, a corporate policy in place, that protects us from employees coming into work impaired,” she said.

As discussed here repeatedly in recent months, opioid use is on the rise across the country, but especially in Ohio. In 2014, the state had the second-largest number of opioid-related deaths in the United States and the fifth-highest rate of overdose.

This opioid epidemic that we’re experiencing … it seems like it’s worse than in other places all over the country,” Mitchell said.

Ohio’s new law on medical marijuana, which went into effect in 2016 and allows those with a qualifying condition and a recommendation from a physician to buy the drug legally, was another hurdle for employers to overcome, she said.

“The difficult part about marijuana is, we don’t have an affordable test that tells me if they smoked it over the weekend or smoked it in the morning before they came to work. And I just can’t take the chance of having an impaired worker running a crane carrying a 300,000-pound steel encasement,” she said.


For now, she said, there are almost 12,000 open skilled labor jobs in Mahoning County. “There are good-paying jobs and the opportunity for people in our area. We just can’t find people to show up who can pass a drug test,” she said.

Maybe instead of focusing how to perpetuate the US waiter and bartender job recovery, the BLS - and the administration - should contemplate how to eliminate the pervasive addiction problem which is rapidly becoming a structural hurdle for America's millions of unemployed.


Bryan HockeyFool Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:49 Permalink

I think we just have to go down that road.  People seem to be strangely ignorant when it comes to their rights to recreation vs. the privilege to work.  Legalizing hard drugs isn't all about unicorns and rainbows... and this is one of the unintended consequences of that:  a drugged workforce is generally an unproductive workforce.  But continue to push for legalization of all drugs and we'll just have to get to the bottom of that barrel and see, I guess.

In reply to by HockeyFool

PT Bryan Mon, 07/31/2017 - 11:15 Permalink

Gotta admit - drugged workforce is dangerous fuckwits.  In the past I have worked alongside a few serious liabilities.But notice how politicians don't have to do D&A tests and there is a pub in Parliament House?  Guess any drug-fucked psycho can run the country ...

In reply to by Bryan

PT PT Mon, 07/31/2017 - 11:18 Permalink

What about banksters?  Do banksters have to do drug tests?Probably:  "You wanna be a bankster?  I need you to test this blow.""Not the best, but better than nothing.""Yeah, you're right.  It was half-cut with washing powder.  Here, now you can try the good stuff.  You're hired."

In reply to by PT

Bryan micksavage2010 Mon, 07/31/2017 - 14:54 Permalink

Digging ditches, shoveling shit, cleaning gutters, picking produce -- I'll give those to ya.  Operating machinery, driving, working with high voltage... I'd leave those things to people with no drugs in their system.  So do your drugs and have a good life picking up trash on the roads - I bet it's really fun when you're high, "dipshit". 

In reply to by micksavage2010

847328_3527 Kidbuck Mon, 07/31/2017 - 14:09 Permalink

"Obesity " is a disease officially now and qualifies you for disability. Even though it's a life style choice 95% of the time, the American Association of Quackologists (psychiatrists) deemed it "a disease" so it's now covered by all sorts of disability programs, most of which are subsidized by taxpayers. Why I should have to pay for a chubby's medical bills (diabetes, heart bypasses, etc) if beyond the pale.

In reply to by Kidbuck

Justin Case Doctor Faustus Mon, 07/31/2017 - 13:40 Permalink

The two you cherry picked had no relevance. There are hundreds of others to study, but you won't choose to educate yoar self b/c it contrdicts what you like to believe in.Germany prospered into a super power in 5 yrs. while the rest of the planet was a depression in the mid 30's. There was a reason for that. The govn't finally took away the banker's privilege of printing money. The Gov't took control of their country away from the banksters, that continuously orchestrated their bankruptcies in the 1800's stealing the German people's money. The parasites were removed from power and this is merica's problem right now. Parasites running the country into the ground with unpayable debt. Merica is bankrupt.The Federal Reserve Bank is a consortium of 9 Zionist Jewish-owned & associated banks with the Rothschilds at the head:$1. Rothschild Banks of London and Berlin.$2. Lazard Brothers Banks of Paris.$3. Israel Moses Seif Banks of Italy.$4. Warburg Bank of Hamburg and Amsterdam.$5. Lehman Brothers of NY.$6. Kuhn, Loeb Bank of NY (Now Shearson American Express).$7. Goldman, Sachs of NY.$8. National Bank of Commerce NY/Morgan Guaranty Trust (J. P. Morgan Bank - Equitable Life - Levi P. Morton are principal shareholders).$9. Hanover Trust of NY (William and David Rockefeller & Chase National Bank NY are principal shareholders).

In reply to by Doctor Faustus

Justin Case Justin Case Mon, 07/31/2017 - 13:49 Permalink

The ruling elite planned the global economic downturn. They timed the implementation and orchestration while controlling media coverage of it.First, the plan involved the global economic downturn by contracting the global economy whilst denying the recession. Then the commencement of media reports about the recession began. This was followed by formal acknowledgement of the recession by world leaders. Most of the central banks were then ordered to lower interest rates towards zero. The ruling elite are involved in imposing massive financial rescue packages designed to raise all participating countries’ debt levels. However, these rescue packages are also designed to fail, which will send the world from recession into depression. This will eventually bring about a re-stabilizing of the world economy with a very wide gap between the haves and the have-nots. The One World Government will not be far behind.Knowledge is power. Gov't suppress knowledge.Pick-Pocketing the PeopleFrom:

In reply to by Justin Case

curbjob Countrybunkererd Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:34 Permalink

 Absolutely. It's a vig based economy.(as an aside, years ago my wife worked in an HR department of a large company that implemented drug testing at the behest of their insurance company that insured the  fleet of company  cars.13% of the workforce tested positive for THC and the policy required that they attend counselling. Most refused and quit. The following year, after the loss of what turned out to be some of the company's key employees, the CEO suggested that it would probably have made more cents to have gotten rid of the fleet (and insurance) and given those employees a car allowance .)

In reply to by Countrybunkererd

BandGap NoDebt Mon, 07/31/2017 - 11:09 Permalink

WTF can't people figure out here? I have fired employees for drinking (not being drunk) on the job. Is it such a stretch of the imagination that they would be fired for pot use? And she is absolutely correct that there is no quantifiable test for marijauna use, jsut ask any police force where pot is legal.Opiates were introduced as "pain" killers, making them ligitimate. 

In reply to by NoDebt

ejmoosa Cognitive Dissonance Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:24 Permalink

Likely a Catch 22 in some states.  If they are doing drugs, then they may be able to claim disability at some point and demand rehab and other treatments at the expense of the business.A libertarian solution: People should be responsible for themselves, and it should have nothing to do with the business if they decided to use or abuse drugs.And if their work is unacceptable, they should be able to fire employees with relative ease.

In reply to by Cognitive Dissonance

dark fiber Cognitive Dissonance Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:24 Permalink

Do you know what machining company means?  When one of these drugged out idiots gets his hand mangled by a lathe and sues the company, then what?  Are you serious?  Are you even vaguely familiar with OSHA regulations?  No way a drug user gets anywhere near the production floor, because if anything happens to him, it is the company's fault. Seriously, WTF.

In reply to by Cognitive Dissonance