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A Changing Workforce

How Is Your Local Labor Market Changing?

If Big Data is the New Resource Technology, then Labor Survey Research providing Labor Supply and Demand Data is the Competitive Advantage.
Manufacturing, an “American Comeback Story”

Boston Consulting is out with a survey of U.S. based executives at manufacturing firms with annual sales of at least $1 billion. All told, 16 percent of them said they’re already moving operations from China back to the United States. That’s up from 13 percent a year ago.

Fully 54 percent said they’re interested in reshoring either now or in the future. Most of them cited easier access to skilled labor as a prime reason. Some of them also cited shorter supply chains reduced shipping costs, and less expensive U.S. Energy.According to Briton Ryle, Wealth Daily, “The American manufacturing sector lost an estimated six million jobs in the first decade of the new millennium. But Chinese workers are now enjoying an improved standard of living, as wages have risen from $0.53 an hour to $8.50 an hour over the last 10 years. Private sector wages in China rose 11 percent in 2011 and another 12 percent in 2012.”

Some States are Growing Faster than Others

The good news according to the BLS is that employment in manufacturing in the U.S. is up 1.6 percent from 2009 to 2013 with overall private sector employment up 5.6. Many states and regions are growing faster than the national averages, while other areas are growing slower. The nine central U.S. States, (Missouri and the eight surrounding states) shows the region with slower growth with 1.4 percent in Manufacturing and 3.9 percent in private sector growth. This is over the same 2009 to 2013 time period.

Different Groups Share Jobs Differently

More than a third of recent college grads with jobs are working in positions that don’t require a degree. Economists call that figure the “mal-employment” rate and right now it tops 35 percent for college-educated workers under the age of 25, according to figures crunched by Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.According to data available from the Labor Department, no matter their education level, the 55-and-over workforce has grown by 5 million since the start of the “Great Recession.” But the under-55 crowd still has 2.5 million jobs to make up.Every year, the Manpower Group, a human resources consultancy, conducts a worldwide “Talent Shortage Survey.” Last year, 35 percent of 38,000 employers reported difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent; in the U.S., 39 percent of employers did.Yet “skills gap” as identified in this and other surveys has been widely criticized as employer whining. So why are skills hard to measure and manage? According to Peter Cappelli, new technologies frequently require specific new skills that schools don’t teach and that labor markets don’t supply. “Since information technologies have radically changed much work over the last couple of decades, employers have had persistent difficulty finding workers who can make the most of these new technologies.”

Importance of New and Small Businesses

According to the Kauffman Foundation, net job creation in the United States would have been negative in nearly every year since 1980 were it not for new businesses (less than five years old).A recent Fed Survey of Consumer Finances sees the percentage of U.S. families who own a small business “fell substantially” from 2010-13 to an all-time low of 11.7 percent.In conclusion, perhaps the largest amount of valuable data not available is local labor market talent or skill information. What is it? Where is it? At what cost? And in what quantities?

Edmund A “Ed” Martin, GSG Transition Consultant

Workforce Intelligence for Growing Business


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