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Unemployment Skyrockets Among the Amish

Updated on March 26, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish is successful at employment & training, with regional records of tens of thousands placed and retained in gainful employment.


Amish Population Growth Creates Higher Unemployment

One does not expect the Amish to become unemployed, because these people have their own farms in their families for several generations.However, in 2012, research compiled by The Ohio State University indicated that an Amish baby boom from 1990 - 2012 overburdened the family farms.

This was true across the United States, but most markedly in Holmes County, Ohio, the largest Amish community in the world.

By 2011, the Amish outnumbered the non-Amish residents in Holmes County. Simultaneously, a new Amish community was found to begin somewhere in the US every 2.5 weeks. This is enormous growth that denies previous beliefs that the Amish were declining in numbers. A larger percentage of young adults are staying on the farm and these young people are having larger families than in the past.

Doubling their population about every 21 years worldwide, the Amish included nearly 320,000 in 2017, including in USA, Canada, and South America.

Ohio Amish Unemployment vs. USA

Ohio Amish in Holmes County Unemployment
Holmes County Unemployment
Ohio Unemployment
USA Unemployment
January 2018

Data from U.S. Census Bureau and

By 2011, the Amish outnumbered the non-Amish residents in Holmes County.

Holmes County OH:
Holmes County Airport, Millersburg, OH 44654, USA

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"Amish Country, Ohio"

Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center Berlin, Ohio:
5798 Co Rd 77, Berlin, OH 44610, USA

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Schrock's Amish Farm and Village:
Schrock's Amish Farm and Village, 4363 State Highway 39, Millersburg, OH 44654, USA

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Walnut Creek Township OH:
Walnut Creek, OH, USA

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The decade from 2010 - 2019 found an influx of greater numbers of Hispanic and Islamic residents, along with growing numbers of Amish. Native American groups also grew appreciably from 2000 - 2020. The population of America trended away from the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant former majority.

Population growth created a need to work off the farm. In a society where schooling ended after the 8th grade, this was not an easy problem to solve.

Cultural Center of Holmes County

The Village of Millersburg is the county seat and geographic center of Holmes County, named after the large Miller Family that emigrated to Ohio from Europe to Pennsylvania and then to Ohio.

Berlin Township in Ohio is the other notable Amish community nearby and the largest Amish tourist attraction. Walnut Creek Township is smaller and offers an interesting number of Amish dining and food and/or gift shopping options.

The entire county of Holmes has a population of 42,000 according to the US Census Bureau in 2016, but is growing almost too quickly to measure.

The traditional living arrangement has been for young marrieds to settle a portion of the family farm or to receive acreage from one of a number of farms owned by an inter-generational family. Surprisingly, these families are running out of land.

Village of Millersburg OH:
Millersburg, OH 44654, USA

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Plain City, Ohio:
Plain City, OH 43064, USA

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Plain city is west of Columbus and is home to another large Amish population.

Amish communities are located in 31 states and three Canadian provinces. In 2016 the Amish established two new settlements in the province of Prince Edward Island. (Many of these families are Millers.)

— Amish Studies: The Young Center
Summerville Prince Edward Island:
Summerville, PE C0A 1T0, Canada

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A new community established in 2016.

Bridgetown Prince Edward Island:
Bridgetown, PE C0A 1G0, Canada

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Another settlement began just west of this town in 2016.

The Amish are one of the fastest-growing religious groups in North America. They’re doubling their population about every 21 to 22 years,

— Joseph Donnermeyer, Prof. of Rural Sociology OSU School of Environment/Natural Rrsources 7/30/2012

Barriers to Employment

If the option of farming as a career for a newly married Amish couple is removed by a lack of land, then the growing population can look forward to problems of earning a livelihood and finding dwelling places.

Education Level and Employment

Formal education in the Amish settlement often extends only through the 8th grade. Certainly, individuals continue to learn practical knowledge from working the farm, but employers indicate to me in my workforce career that they need workers that can read at the 10th grade level and perform math at the 9th grade level at minimum. This presents a problem to finding work outside the settlement.

Working outside the community and returning each evening may result in other difficulties. Transportation is the first barrier to employment, if there are no bus lines nearby. Some workers might use the family horse and buggy and bicycles, of course, present a good alternative in better weather. Automobile ownership is not permitted, but the Amish can ride with friends or even drive a car that is not their own. Some workers might walk several miles to a non-farm job.

Transferable Skills for Work

However, the Amish have intense skills in a variety of fields, including agriculture, animal husbandry, furniture making, blacksmithing, baking and cooking, sewing, quilting, and a number of others. Jobs in alternative energy is a possibility, since some of the family farms farms use gasoline generators and natural gas appliances as well as wind turbines. The Amish do have transferable skills.

Traditional clothing can create problems in the outside workplace.
Traditional clothing can create problems in the outside workplace. | Source

Customs and Etiquette in the Workplace

Clashes of customs and related misunderstandings can occur in the workplace. However, many Holmes County Amish already do work outside the settlement. Working on Sundays is likely not possible, though. Differences in clothing and language may also present obstacles. Taking a photograph for an ID card would be against the faith.

Amish farmers and craftsmen are not covered by programs such as Social Security, Workers Compensation, and Unemployment Insurance, but the outside world of work provides these benefits that may be welcomed by workers previously not covered.

County employment offices in the US have served minority groups in the past and may be able to help Amish workers toward non-farm careers now. Job coaches can help smooth the transition to work outside the faith-based settlements.

Columbus OH:
Columbus, OH, USA

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Many Ordnung communities are located within a drive of an hour or two from the state capital.

Plain City OH:
Plain City, OH 43064, USA

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Millersburg in Holmes County:
Millersburg, OH 44654, USA

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This town is named after the many Miller families among the Amish and Mennonite populations.

Mt. Hope/Millersburg. Phone:330-674-7661:
7701 OH-241, Millersburg, OH 44654, USA

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Additional farm markets thrive here.

Hartville OH:
Hartville, OH 44632, USA

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Many family farms and U-Pick facilities are located here.

Geauga County OH:
Geauga County, OH, USA

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This settlement is about an hour's drive from Cleveland.

Agriculture Produces Income

Amish families continue to produce income through selling the products of their farmlands and livestock.

U-Pick Farms and Pre-Picked Sales

The Farmer's Flower and Produce Auction in Mt. Hope. In season, during each spring, summer and autumn, weekly wholesale auction sales are held for sweet- and horse corn, hay, livestock, fire wood and other items. More occasional sales are held for draft horses, cows, and other livestock and farm items throughout the year. This particular auction site is a popular place.

The Amish come to buy and sell, but all are welcomed to attend the sales. Grocers usually being a semi-truck. Individuals and families can often find someone with whom to split a large unit of produce. Most people have a good time at these auctions. The address is below and scheduled sales are available at the website.

  • 7701 Ohio 241; Millersburg, OH 44654. Phone:330-674-7661

Ohio Amish Country
Ohio Amish Country | Source


  • Amish Etiquette. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  • Amish Studies: The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. Elizabethtown College. Amish Population Profile for 2016. 2nd Ed. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  • Steiner, S. In Search of Promised Lands. Retrieved February 2018.
  • Caldwell, E. Estimate: A New Amish Community is Founded Every 3.5 Weeks in U.S. The Ohio State University. Retrived August 5, 2012.

© 2012 Patty Inglish MS


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