January 15, 2020
Happy 2020! We want to start the new year on an optimistic note, which is why we consider the current hiring and economic landscape to be a glass half full. There's a lot to cheer on the jobs front as unemployment continues to hover near record lows. And while there was breathless speculation in 2019 of an impending recession, current economic indicators still point to continued GDP growth.
It's also encouraging for job seekers that job openings are up in many industries including manufacturing, which has close to a half a million unfilled positions. Aerospace, aviation, automotive and other industrial tech companies are pulling out all the stops with perks like relocation fees in hopes of attracting skilled talent. But all these good fortunes come with an asterisk – wage growth remains mystifyingly low.
Keep scrolling to dive further into the details of the current jobs market and we'll see you in a fortnight!
Monthly Manufacturing Job Openings
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Hot Jobs Market, Frozen Wages
- The US economy has been adding jobs for 111 straight months, a record reflected in a low unemployment rate heretofore unseen in fifty years. It's great news for the American worker with one not insignificant caveat – wage growth has been disappointing, and economists are stumped as to why.
- Wage growth peaked last February at 3.4% and has been retreating ever since. Over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by just 2.9%. Compare this to the 4% regularly seen in the late 1990s.
- One bright spot is that wages for non-supervisors are growing at nearly 3.7%, according to the latest data through November. That’s better than for workers overall, but still, the figure trails behind the trend from the late 1990s.
- Economists point to a number of potential culprits, including a decline in union memberships, cities with one large employer that can control wages, and benefits and flexible work schedules which workers may accept in exchange for lower pay.
- Then there's another theory which some are unwilling to accept: even with a low unemployment rate there might still be plenty of Americans available for work so employers are not exactly incentivized to really boost pay.
Manufacturers Offering Perks to Get New Hires to Relocate
- There are about 500,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs as of this writing, the most in nearly two decades. At the same time, Americans are moving around the country at the lowest rate in 70 years. So in order to attract skilled workers, manufactures are raising wages somewhat, offering signing bonuses and covering relocation costs.
- In December 2019, manufacturing wage growth reached 3%, a whole point higher than it was a year prior but a far cry from the 5.3% clocked in April 2009.
- It's not uncommon for manufacturing companies to offer relocation payments up to $5,000 in the hopes of wooing skilled workers. And it's not just for salaried employees; hourly workers are also being enticed with paid moving expenses.
- To gain an edge in the war on talent, employers are getting creative by offering perks that also include steel-toed boots, YMCA memberships, and retention bonuses.
- The competition for highly-skilled professionals comes at a time when the manufacturing industry faces additional difficulties. The U.S. factory sector contracted for the fifth consecutive month in December and shed 12,000 jobs from the previous month.
Tweet of the Week
The Latest from Cluster
The Driverless Decade: Part I - Land Vehicles. Will the 2020s mark the end of the human driver? All signs point to yes. In the first installment of a 4-part series on the driverless decade, we're taking a look at what companies have in store for self-driving land vehicles. Read All About It >>
CES 2020: Legit, Game-Changing Tech from the Last Decade at CES. CES 2020 went down in Vegas last week with companies showing off their shiny new toys. So we decided to look back at CES events from the past decade and, with hindsight, pick the innovations that've had real impact. Read All About It >>
Weekly Roundup: Boeing Reverses Course, No Days Off for SpaceX, Tesla Is Officially the GOAT Read All About It >>
Upcoming Events in SoCal
Jan 22 : LAEDC Future Forum: Space Commercialization
Cross Campus El Segundo
The CEO of Virgin Galactic will be the keynote speaker at this event which brings together aerospace commercialization firms and thought leaders to explore the industry’s cutting-edge technology and workforce development needs in Los Angeles County. Info
Jan 30: #TLASCM01 – The Los Angeles Supply Chain Meetup Kickoff
The inaugural Los Angeles Supply Chain Meetup will feature conversations with innovators in supply chain logistics in the Los Angeles metro area. The event will also include presentations by leaders in autonomous trucking and shipping. Info
Check out our calendar for all the latest SoCal events here
The first SLS rocket core stage for the Artemis program. New Orleans. 2020