As participation in the labor force went down, working-age Ohioans still face rising death rates, a new report shows.
Research from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio showed a 9% decline in the labor force participation rate for the state from 2007 to 2022, according to data collected for a 2023 Health Value Dashboard, which analyzes Ohio’s viability in categories from infant health to adult death causes.
The labor force participation decrease ran parallel to discouraging data on deaths among working-age Ohioans, which went up 51% between 2007 and 2021. The institute pointed to the two data points as proof of the connection between economic conditions, health, and labor force participation.
“Improved health of Ohioans leads to greater participation in the workforce and higher earnings, which increases opportunity for better health,” researchers at the HPIO said in spotlighting the two data points.
The health value dashboard report acknowledged that policy changes have “led to improvements in access to care, but new efforts are needed to improve outcomes and control spending.”
“Deaths among working age Ohioans are increasing, driven by addiction, violence, suicide and chronic disease,” the institute found.
The institute found that Ohio performs worse than other states when it comes to drug overdose rates, adult smoking, and youth e-cigarette use. Along with an increased adult depression rate, behavioral health in Ohio is straining under the weight of need.
“Ohio’s behavioral health workforce is not large enough to meet rising demand,” the HPIO stated.
Household income and depression rates are connected as well, according to 2021 data used in the health dashboard, with 42% of those with adult depression in Ohio earn less than $15,000 per year, with 32% making $15,000 to $24,999, and another 26% falling in the $25,000 to $34,999 income range.
A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that drug overdose deaths in the state rose well above national rates from 2011 to 2021. CDC data showed that Ohio had 48.1 deaths related to drug overdose per 100,000 residents in the ten-year period.
The United States had a rate of 32.4 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the CDC and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness found that 19% of adults with reported anxiety or depression were “unable to get needed counseling or therapy” as of February 2021.
“Of the 537,000 adults in Ohio who did not receive needed mental health care, 35.4% did not because of cost,” a NAMI report stated.
With Ohioans three times more likely to be “forced out-of-network for mental health care than for primary health care,” NAMI also found that more than 2 million people in the state “live in a community that does not have enough mental health professionals.”
That impacts everyone from high school students with depression, who are two times more likely to drop out than their peers, to homeless individuals, 1 in 5 of which live with a serious mental illness, according to the alliance.
By strengthening community-based primary care, mental health, and addiction workforce recruitment and retention and even career technical education could help increase workforce numbers, but also keep Ohio workers healthier.
“With strategic investments in vocational education and work supports, more Ohioans can join the labor force and increase their earnings, which will reduce poverty and improve health,” HPIO stated.
This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.