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How the Ohio Amish Baby Boom Subjected the Amish to Unemployment in the 2010s

Updated on February 10, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish offers 30 years successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).


Changing Populations

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 so many Amish were born in the 1990s and 2000s that their communities did not have enough farms or other land on which for them to live.

This was true across the United States, but most pronouncedly so in Holmes County, Ohio. Before mid-century, the number of Amish individuals would outnumber the non-Amish residents in that county. Simultaneously, a new Amish community was found to begin somewhere inn the US every 2.5 weeks. This is enormous growth in the place of previous beliefs that the Amish were declining in numbers.

Overall, the 2010s found an influx of greater numbers of Hispanic and Islamic residents, along with growing numbers of Amish. Native American groups also grew appreciably in the 2000s and 2010s. Definitely, the population trend of America was away from the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) majority of the mid-20th Century.

In addition, the Amish unable to love and work on farms were unemployed and needed work. In a society where schooling ended after the 8th grade, this was not an easy problem to solve.

Amish Country, Ohio

show route and directions
A markerHolmes County OH -
Holmes County Airport, Millersburg, OH 44654, USA
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B markerAmish Mennonite Heritage Center -
Amish Mennonite Heritage Center, 5798 County Highway 77, Berlin, OH 44610, USA
get directions

C markerSchrock's Amish Farm and Village -
Schrock's Amish Farm and Village, 4363 State Highway 39, Millersburg, OH 44654, USA
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D markerWalnut Creek Township OH -
Walnut Creek, OH, USA
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The Center of Holmes County

Holmes County is home to the largest Amish population in the world and that population is growing almost too quickly.

The Village of Millersburg is the county seat and center of Holmes County, named after the large Miller Family that emigrated to Ohio from Europe and on to Pennsylvania before arriving here. One of my great grandparents had the surname Miller and may have been related to the larger component of Millers in Pennsylvania. A friend in Michigan has the maiden name of Miller and may be a distant relative as well. A lot of Millers have traveled through Pennsylvania to the Midwest!

Berlin Township in Ohio is the other notable Amish community in the county and the largest for tourism. Walnut Creek Township is a smaller community that offers an interesting number of Amish dining and food and/or gift shopping options.

The entire county of Holmes has a population of only 42,000 as of Census2010, but is growing almost too quickly to measure. In fact, 36,000 residents in and around the Holmes County area ("Amish Country, Ohio") are reported to be Amish as of 2012. 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 intergenerational family. Surprisingly, our Amish citizens are running out of land.

Amish farmland.
Amish farmland. | Source

Unemployed Populations

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 among communities that are Amish can look forward to problems of earning a livelihood and finding dwelling places.


In Holmes County, formal education for the Amish extend only through the 8th grade, just short of high school. Certainly, individuals continue to learn practical knowledge from working in Amish communities day to day, but employers of all kinds in Ohio have indicated throughout my career in workforce development that they need workers, on average, that can read at the 10th grade level and perform math at the 9th grade level as minimum requirements. This presents a problem to Amish citizens that may need to find work outside the Amish community.

Working outside the Amish community and returning each evening may result in other difficulties as well. Transportation is the first barrier to employment, if there are no bus lines near the Amish community. Some workers might use the family horse and buggy if the outfit was not needed by the other family members every day. 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, this carpooling may even be an option in some instances. I am wondering how many Amish workers might walk several miles back and forth to work.

Finding jobs in the outside world for which Amish life provides usable skill sets may be problematic. However, the Amish have intense skills in a variety of fields, including agriculture, animal husbandry, furniture making, baking and cooking, sewing, quilting, and a number of others. Amish communities are also likely the last bastions of blacksmithing. Alternative energy is also a part of Amish life, from gasoline generators and natural gas appliances, to wind turbines. The Amish do have transferable skills.

Customs and Etiquette

Working outside the Amish community may result in clashes of customs and related misunderstandings at first, but some Holmes County Amish residents already do work outside of the community. Working on Sundays is likely not possible for the Amish, for example. Differences in clothing and language among the Amish and the outside community at work may also present some obstacles. Taking a photograph for an ID card would present a big problem (See the Etiquette links below).

Working on their own farmlands, the Amish do not pay Social Security tax or purchase health insurance, but they do pay income and property taxes and similar. It will be interesting to see how the non-purchase of health insurance squares with President Obama's healthcare plan that requires such purchases.

Amish farmers and craftsmen working in their communities are not covered by programs such as Workers Compensation or Unemployment Insurance, so the younger Amish that marry and cannot be given a place to live or farmland to manage will not be covered by the Unemployment system. They will simply lack income altogether. The larger Amish community bands together to help its members when they need healthcare and other aide. However, the lack of adequate farmland under the increasing growth of the population will place additional financial burdens on the Amish communities of Holmes County and other areas of the country, mainly in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

It is possible that county employment offices near Amish communities may act as liaisons in the near future for connecting the Amish with employment in the outside world. These agencies would provide job search and placement options and appropriate orientation and training for both employers and their Amish new-hires, along with other offerings. These employment offices have served minority groups in the past, as well as veterans, single parents, senior citizens and other groups, and may be the best hope for the newly unemployed Amish that our nation has not been expecting.

See Amish Etiquette

Amish Country is within 1.5 to 2 Hours of Many Major Cities

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A markerMillersburg OH -
Millersburg, OH 44654, USA
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B markerColumbus OH -
Columbus, OH, USA
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C markerCleveland OH -
Cleveland, OH, USA
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D markerPittsburgh PA -
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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Agriculture Produces Income

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

U-Pick Farms and Sales In Amish Country

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

Other Options:

  • Additional U-Pick and Farm Markets in Ohio are located at the embedded link. The particular facilities in the Hartville area are nearest to Millersburg.

Ohio Amish Country
Ohio Amish Country | Source

© 2012 Patty Inglish


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 22 months ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

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

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 22 months 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 image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for your comment, tamarawhite!

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 5 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 image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      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 5 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 5 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 image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for your insights, RedElf.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 5 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

      Erin 5 years ago from Near Sacramento, California

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