Job Search Guide: Columbus, Ohio

Columbus fared better than many cities throughout the recession. Here’s what job seekers need to know about the job market in one of the biggest cities in the Midwest.

Columbus is one of those cities that sneaks under the national radar. Although many people realize that it’s the capital and largest city in the state of Ohio, few realize that it’s the 15th largest city in the U.S. and home to a highly diversified economy that has leveraged technological sophistication to position itself in the 21st century.

Like many large American cities, Columbus was founded at the nexus of two transportation waterways, the Scioto and Olentangy rivers. Located in the center of the state, Columbus was an obvious choice for the state capitol and the center of the state’s economic activity.

Throughout the 19th century, Columbus built a reputation in manufacturing, at one point gaining a reputation as the “Buggy Capital of the World” with buggy manufacturing plants dotting the Columbus landscape. But while other Midwest cities continued to cling to their manufacturing roots, Columbus pursued a diversified economic strategy – a decision that has helped protect the city from the impact of losses experienced across the manufacturing sector.

Economic Outlook

Columbus consistently ranks among the best U.S. cities for quality of life and economic opportunity. In 2007, the investment publication fDi Magazine ranked Columbus third in the U.S. for “cities of the future” and fourth for the nation’s most business-friendly city.

The economic diversification efforts of private corporations and elected officials insulated Columbus during the recent recession. As of Q3 2011, the unemployment rate in Columbus was 7.6%, well below the national average.

The economic outlook for Columbus is strong, especially when compared to many other cities in Ohio. Starting in 2011/2012, both the Columbus economy and job market are expected to experience significant growth. During the rebound, the regional employers will capitalize on the city’s economic strengths, creating new opportunities for job seekers who possess the skills to compete in today’s economy.

Growth Sectors

In contrast to many other U.S. metro regions, the Columbus economy is home to several strong job sectors that are poised for growth in the coming years. Columbus has an unusually high concentration of insurance companies, providing employment opportunities for insurance professionals and office personnel.

Statewide, it’s expected that 45% of the new jobs created by 2018 will come from the education and healthcare sectors, with more than one in four new jobs gained in business and professional services.

In addition to these job sectors, the Columbus metro will offer career opportunities for skilled job seekers in the defense, banking, aviation, technology, logistics, steel and research industries.

The energy industry is also a vital part of the Columbus economy. However, a recent study conducted at Ohio State University predicts that the region’s oil and natural gas industry will create substantially fewer jobs than the 200,000 positions that have been forecasted by the industry.

Major Employers

In 2011, five Columbus area corporations were named to the Fortune 500 list including Nationwide Mutual Insurance, American Electric Power, Limited Brands, Momentive Specialty Chemicals and Big Lots.

The Columbus area is rife with major employers, many of which are recognized brands like JP Morgan Chase, Owens Corning and Wendy’s. Area institutions including Ohio State University, Battelle Memorial Institute and Cardinal Health may also present opportunities for job hunters in the education, technology and healthcare sectors.

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