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Unemployment Skyrockets Among the Amish

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

Ms. Inglish is a successful Employment & Training pro, setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed 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

get directions

"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

get directions

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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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      24 months ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @Dennis Thorgesen -- Thanks for commenting. About five years ago in the Lancaster PA area, I saw a couple of Amish men borrow cars from Mennonite friends for a few hours; but I don't know how common that practice is around Lancaster now. On the far west side of Columbus and on through Plain City, Ohio, we see horse-and-buggy transportation quite often. An hour north of us, we see even more horse drawn vehicles traveling among motor vehicles.

      As of 2019, a lot of Amish and Mennonites west of Columbus are working in local year-round farm markets, bakeries, cheese shops, gift shops, and other retail shops. I see folks from both denominations using landlines in the stores, but our Amish are not permitted to have phones of their own - they can borrow a cell phone in an emergency, though. The Amish come into town to visit our several free health clinics.

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      2 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      In the Lancaster Pennsylvania area the Amish seem more likely to go into business than find a job. The Amish there ran out of land years ago. Many do work though, and education there doesn't seem to be an issue or barrier.

      In my years in Pennsylvania I never saw an Amish person drive. Those who had to go any distance always hired a local non Amish person to drive them. While there I met several people who made their entire living driving for the Amish.

      I am aware that during the ordung Amish teens and young adults can own cars and drive. At that point though they don't dress as the general Amish population. If they don't return to their fold and become members, they are no longer considered Amish.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      5 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Very interesting! - Processes advance, don't they?

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 

      5 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      I've seen a rise in Amish made furniture in magazines like "Popular Mechanics". A well made wooden fireplace mantle to put over your heaters/natural gas fireplace, chairs, etc. It looks like there are more crafting/furniture businesses tapping into this labor supply.

      The more interesting modern development are the websites where you can buy Amish made jams, jellies, and baked goods online. They cook their way, someone else sells it through a website.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for your comment, tamarawhite!

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 

      8 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      This is probably where there has been a boom in Amish made furniture, as well as a movement by many Amish to relatively empty areas in the Dakotas.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      tirelesstraveler - The Amish use a school building and often divide kids into grades 1-4 and grades 5-8, using 2 rooms or a sheet to divide one large room. Teenagers and moms from the community teach the kids. Once in a while a dad will teach, but not often. Grade 8 is the end of education, no homeschooling that I have heard, and after grade 8 comes a lot more hard physical labor at home/farm. Some employers in the outside world have GED teachers come into the workplace to help adults learn more, though.

      TToombso8 - They might have borrowed a truck, because that is allowed; or perhaps they might have been Mennonites that used the clothing very similar to the Amish? It was a disconcerting sight, wasn't it?

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      9 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Very interesting. Last week, when I was in Billings, MT, I could have sworn there were Amish at one of the farm supply stores I was at, only they were driving an Ford F350 and towing a cattle water tank. It made me look 3 times. :)

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      9 years ago from California

      Do the Amish home school? This is fascinating. So the Amish have to move to other locations to hold to their traditions. That should be interesting.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for your insights, RedElf.

    • RedElf profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      One could say, "Well, you can only subdivide the land so many times before you run out." I think the 2000 - 2010 birth rate surprised everyone. We are seeing a similar situation here with our Mennonites and in the Hutterite colonies - lots of people working "out" as land becomes scarce.

      Thanks for another interesting read!

    • ErinElise profile image


      9 years ago from Near Sacramento, California

      I enjoyed reading your hub on the Amish. It is very informative and interesting.


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