Overall Manufacturing Employment Continues Growth Spur in May

Despite strong recruitment efforts, manufacturers still having problems finding skilled workers, according to SHRM report

May was another strong month for the U.S. job market, with nearly two-thirds of employers from the manufacturing and service sectors planning to hire in the next 30 days. Despite strong recruitment efforts, nearly a third of manufacturers say they cannot find skilled employees to fill vacant positions, according to May’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. 

LINE is an economic indicator that identifies early economic trends and changes in the national job market by surveying human resource (HR) executives at manufacturing and service sector firms. It reports on five employment measures, three of which are unique to LINE. An index value above 50 indicates employment is growing, while an index below 50 shows that employment is contracting.


Overall manufacturing employment continued to grow in May. There were fewer new vacant positions that recruiters were actively trying to fill , but a sharp increase in the number of HR professionals who were finding it difficult to recruit skilled employees. June recruitment appears exceptionally strong, with 61% of HR executives planning to recruit in the next 30 days. This is the highest level for the employment expectations index since the LINE monthly reports were initiated in February 2004.

The large number of vacant positions and strong need for skilled employees do not appear to be having any impact on new-hire compensation.


Service sector employment also continued to expand in May. The service sector does not appear to be experiencing the same challenges as manufacturing in finding skilled employees. There was a sharp increase in the percentage of employers with newly opened positions, and the employment expectations also look strong, with nearly 66% of employers planning to hire in June.

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. For a full copy of the report and a detailed description of each component, go to www.shrm.org/LINE.


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