Strong Employment Growth in April for Manufacturing and Service Sectors

In manufacturing, current hiring, vacant positions and expansion plans at highest levels in more than two years

U.S. employment continued to grow at a strong pace through April, and employers indicated an ongoing need for skilled workers to fill vacant positions, as reported in April's Leading Indicator of National Employment (LINE), a collaborative effort between the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations.

The demand for workers is slowly driving up wages, and human resource (HR) executives indicate recruiting efforts will remain strong in May. 

In manufacturing, overall employment continues to expand with 48.4% of employers adding staff in April. A substantial increase occurred among exempt employees, indicating that the employment improvement appears to represent more than just seasonality.

The index for job vacancies in manufacturing rose to 69.6 in April. This is the highest level this index has reached in 27 months since the monthly LINE reports were initiated February 2004. Just over half (50.2%) of manufacturing firms report an increase in the number of open positions that they have been unable to fill.

The inability to fill these open positions appears to be putting some pressure on employers to increase new-hire compensation. In addition, the hiring outlook for the next 30 days remains strong with 56.7% of manufacturing employers planning to recruit.

In the service sector, overall employment improved in April, and HR executives indicated increasing difficulty in recruiting skilled workers. As a result, April compensation for newly-hired employees also increased. May appears to be a strong month for recruiting with nearly 57% of employers saying they will increase employment. 

The SHRM/Rutgers LINE data are collected through a survey of human resource executives at more than 500 manufacturing and 500 service sector firms. The SHRM/Rutgers LINE is a weighted average of five component indexes — employment, vacancies, recruiting difficulty, new-hire compensation and employment expectations. All data are reported using diffusion indexes. A copy of the April report and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at

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