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Talent Talk: Manufacturing and the New Roaring Twenties

Image: Pixelrobot/Adobe Stock Headline reads skilled labor wanted
The manufacturing sector is poised to experience a tremendous post-pandemic rebound, but a shortage of skilled labor could throw a spanner in the works.

There is seemingly great news everywhere you look in the manufacturing sector, but it is also exposing a serious, looming problem — there is not enough skilled labor to support rising demand.

Last week we looked at the impact of pouring $5.3 trillion worth of “gasoline” onto an economy already starting to catch fire. The effect on things like plastics manufacturing salaries that we discussed in that article were anecdotal. This week I want to look at some hard data.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) publishes a monthly report on the health of the US manufacturing sector. While we had some great numbers in 2017 and 2018, you have to go back three years to February 2018 to find a number of 60.8, and all the way back to May 2004 to find a higher number.

The ISM also includes selected feedback from survey participants in its report. These comments are considered indicative of the overall sentiment. Here are a few of those quotes:

  • “Suppliers are complaining of [a lack of] available resources [people] for manufacturing, creating major delivery issues.” (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • “Labor shortages at suppliers are affecting material deliveries and prices.” (Plastics & Rubber Products)
  • “We have seen our new-order log increase by 40% over the last two months. We are overloaded with orders and do not have the personnel to get product out the door on schedule.” (Primary Metals)

You can see it is a common theme across many industries. As problems go, it may be one of the better ones to have, but companies will need to address labor shortages across the board, and the salary and wage inflation that will follow.

 

About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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