Bill LaFayette’s annual economic forecast for Central Ohio illuminates the impact of the $20 billion investment on the region.
For more than 20 years, Bill LaFayette has delivered his economic forecast for Central Ohio for the coming months at the Columbus Metropolitan Club. LaFayette, the well-respected owner of Regionomics, did the same in January in front of a full house at the Boat House Restaurant on the edge of downtown.
In his customary matter-of-fact, yet slightly wry presentation style, he highlighted the impact of the Intel development on the area. As he noted, “You may have heard that Intel has a small project going up in New Albany.”
Here is a summary of his remarks about the $20 billion investment by the high-tech company to build two microchip manufacturing plants (called “fabs”) in Licking County by 2025.
Hundreds of construction workers are already on the site working. More than 900 Intel job openings were posted in November 2022.
At the peak of construction, Intel will need 7,000 construction jobs. “If we stay on our best behavior, we could wind up with six to eight more fabs opening over the next decade.” That would translate into 12,000 to 15,000 construction jobs by the mid-2030s. “Needless to say, this is going to be transformative for our region and for the state.”
LaFayette also pointed out that as a board member for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, he has been working with the organization to research Intel’s effect on employment and population. “The crucial unknown is what the employment will be among suppliers and businesses supporting workers’ households.”
Intel data shows that at current Intel operations in Arizona, Oregon, and New Mexico, each direct Intel job spun off 5.1 to 5.7 more indirect ones. He projected the same, if not more, job creation in Ohio, citing the state’s larger and more diverse economy than those three states. And the bulk of those indirect jobs should be in Central Ohio since Intel wants its primary suppliers to locate near the fab plants. He estimated possibly 67,000 indirect jobs “when all said and done.” He added, “Jobs we would not have had had Intel not started operations.”
He also addressed Intel wages, which has caused a buzz since the company said the average pay will be $135,000 a year (which includes benefits). LaFayette’s research—not based on Intel information—indicates that half of the jobs will be open to those with a high school diploma and one year of training provided by either the company or a community college. “As many as one-third of the jobs will pay less than $50,000 a year.”
But he adds, “That’s actually really good news. It suggests that opportunities at Intel and its suppliers will be open to a broad segment of our workforce. Those workers can expect to earn far more at Intel and their suppliers than other jobs requiring the same skill level.”
LaFayette ended his prepared remarks by cautioning that “focusing on that $135,000 figure suggests that we don’t have to worry about affordable housing and apartments for Intel workers. We definitely do.”
Click this link to watch the CMC presentation. Blue Chip Economic Forecast – CMC (columbusmetroclub.org)