Who is the Workforce?

The workforce is aging, becoming more diverse and not making enough money.

Knowing how to reach and retain workers requires understanding who makes up the workforce. The needs and wants of workers are changing because the make-up of the workforce is changing. Here is a demographic snapshot of who is in the workforce in Northeast Ohio today.1

Adult Population

The total adult population (18+) in Northeast Ohio is 2,899,795. At left is a breakdown by county.


1,606,412, or 55%, of Northeast Ohio adults are currently employed (includes full-time and part-time). Of those who are not currently employed (566,756), 42.9% are looking for work (and therefore, a part of the total workforce).

Labor Force Participation

Labor force participation dipped considerably (nearly 3 percentage points) during the pandemic.2


Northeast Ohio’s adult population is older than the national average, with 59% of Northeast Ohio adults 45 years old or older versus 54% across the U.S.

Racial Diversity

In the past two decades, the diversity of Northeast Ohio’s workforce has increased by 20%.3 In 2001, the workforce was 85% white and 15% people of color.4 By 2021, the makeup had shifted to 80% white and 20% people of color. While this diversification hasn’t happened equally across all occupations, overall the workforce is more racially diverse than it used to be.

Household Income

Nearly half (45%) of Northeast Ohio households earn less than $50,000 a year.

Education Level

More Northeast Ohioans have completed high school, but have lower rates of college education, than the national average.5

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all data reflect information from the U.S. Census Bureau 2020 American Community Survey 5-year estimates and covers 11 counties (Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Wayne).
  2. Source: Lightcast (formerly EMSI/Burning Glass)
  3. Source: Lightcast, 2001-2021. Data encompasses the following 18 counties: Ashland, Ashtabula, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Erie, Geauga, Huron, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Richland, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Wayne.
  4. People of color includes individuals who identify as Hispanic or Latino, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or Two or More Races.
  5. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2020 Annual Social and Economic Supplement