The toxic consequences of Ohio’s opioid crisis have rippled out from the thousands killed or imprisoned. The growing scourge also has infected their families, their friends, their communities.
And now employers and the economy are feeling the drag from an epidemic that has cost the Ohio workforce a big chunk of potential participants, say employers and state leaders.
“It’s a big issue,” said Steve Staub, president of Staub Manufacturing Solutions, a sheet-metal manufacturing firm in Dayton that employs about 50.
Staub said he typically receives about 100 applications for an opening. But with each pre-employment drug screen costing about $100, he has grown careful about whom he invites in for an interview and a test.
After screening out applicants who have big gaps on their resumes, Staub calls others to ask if they can pass a drug screen. Even then, he has failures: A recent prospect repeatedly assured Staub that he was clean but then didn’t show up for his test. That leaves Staub understaffed, hustling to fulfill his company’s contracts and wary about seeking new business.
“It’s tough. It hampers the operation from growing,” Staub said. “How can you get more work when you can’t do the work you already have?”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says that Staub is among many employers struggling to find drug-free workers.
“The No. 1 concern I hear when I talk to employers is, ‘We can’t find people to work here’” because of the inability to pass a drug test, DeWine said. “It’s one of the aspects of the (opioid epidemic) that we don’t hear about.”
Overtime takes toll
DeWine, business owners and industry leaders acknowledge that the epidemic isn’t the sole reason Ohio employers face difficulty finding workers. Unemployment is relatively low, and not enough people are going into booming fields, such as advanced manufacturing and the building trades….