The economy is growing, but American manufacturing companies are having a hard time finding workers to push forward.
With the gradual reopening, U.S. goods are in high demand but entry-level and specialized jobs are not being filled – and that could dramatically slow economic growth.
According to a CNN report, manufacturing in the U.S. reached a 37-year high in March but now has more than a half-million job openings.
The specialized roles such as welders and machinists are among the greatest needs, but so-called “non-skilled” labor openings also are in demand.
More than 2 million manufacturing jobs, according to a Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute report, will be unfilled through 2030, by which time costs to the American economy could reach $1 trillion.
“It is deeply concerning that at a time when jobs are in such high demand nationwide, the number of vacant entry-level manufacturing positions continues to grow,” Paul Wellener, vice chairman and US industrial products and constructions leader at Deloitte, said in a statement.
Seventy-seven percent of manufacturing executives surveyed said they expect to continue having trouble attracting and retaining workers.
Manufacturing executives say part of the problem is perception.
“People don’t know the jobs are here or that these are jobs they want,” Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute, told CNN Business. “People think it’s a stationary, low-progression and low-knowledge industry. And that’s not the case.”
There also is competition for entry-level talent from warehouse and distribution centers for companies such as Amazon and Chewy.
The report recommends recruitment efforts at high schools, flexible schedules and linking leadership performance to diversity, equity and inclusion metrics.
“Manufacturing has traditionally been older, whiter and more male,” Lee said. “It’s mathematically impossible for us to compete in the future without having a more diverse workforce going forward.”