Manufacturing Jobs: The Forces Making Recruitment Tough Have Been Building for Decades and Are Likely to Get Worse

Oct. 3, 2022
IndustryWeek Editor Robert Schoenberger shares his presentation before ARMA, an organization dominated by semiconductor and other high-tech manufacturers.

With jobs going unfilled and nearly two open positions for every job seeker, many people are complaining that since the pandemic, people just don't want to work. 

IndustryWeek Editor-in-Chief Robert Schoenberger recently discussed those trends with the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, noting that few of the major employment trends are recent, so solving them will require a lot more effort than simply responding to news. Topics discussed include:

  • The Great Resignation. It's not a COVID thing, people have been quitting their jobs voluntarily in growing numbers since 2009.
  • Nobody wants to work. They haven't in a long time. Labor market participation rates have been falling for more than 20 years.
  • How can young people afford to keep quitting their jobs? Because housing is so expensive that they can't afford to live independently. More than half of young workers are living with a parent, making them far more mobile than previous generations that had to make rent every month.
  • How much has the manufacturing supply chain recovered post-COVID? A lot, but it's still a mess.
  • How bad is inflation? The worst we've ever seen, but it might not be getting much worse (finger's crossed).
  • Where do we go from here? Lots of challenges remain for manufacturers, primarily in attracting talent at the same time that Amazon, retail, restaurants, trucking and other industries are competing for the same people. But, manufacturing onshoring investments and foreign direct investment into the U.S. provides some hope that things will improve, despite the likelihood of a recession.

Schoenberger's presentation was based on reporting from several IndustryWeek editors and several recent workforce webinars hosted by the magazine. Data in the accompanying charts comes from the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and St. Louis and the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Click here to download a PDF of the slide deck from this presentation.

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