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Manufacturers' outlook strong; demand for skilled workers grows

May 02, 2019

In the first quarter Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for 2019, manufacturers continue to report a positive outlook for their own company and marked nine consecutive quarters of record optimism. However, their top concern remains the inability to attract and retain a quality workforce (71.3 percent cited the inability to attract skilled workers as their top challenge). The National Association of Manufacturers issued a report last month detailing the job openings in manufacturing, with the report’s author, Chad Moutray, calling the skills gap challenge “a full-blown workforce crisis.” In A Hiring Engine: A Breakdown of the Job Openings in Manufacturing, Moutray analyzes the employment trends in manufacturing, gives a sector-by-sector breakdown of recent job openings, identifies states where manufacturing jobs are located, and identifies the in-demand skills needed to fill them.

Moutray notes that with unemployment at 50-year lows and manufacturing adding 20,000 workers on average a month over the past year, the challenge to find qualified workers is even more difficult. He contends that the problem is expected to worsen in coming years. Unless the next generation of manufacturing workers is properly educated about the jobs that exist and the skills needed to fill them, the U.S. could sacrifice as much as $454 billion annually in manufacturing GDP by 2028.

Transportation equipment had the most job growth over the past 12 months, followed by machinery, fabricated metal products, and computer and electronic products. Texas was the state with the most year-over-year manufacturing job gains in February, adding 27,100 workers, with Michigan (10,100), Washington (9,500), Missouri (8,200), Iowa (7,800), Tennessee (7,800) and Ohio (7,500) also topping the list.

The report utilizes data from Burning Glass Technologies, which compiles active job openings into a comprehensive database, to break down a greater level of detail on the sectors and states producing the most postings. Moutray reports that such sectors tend to be highly technical in nature, requiring specialized and advanced training and likely yielding increased salaries. The top two manufacturing subsectors for active job openings were pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing (12.59 percent), and aerospace products and parts manufacturing (9.67 percent).

manufacturing, jobs