Bloomberg (05/14/12) Timothy Homan
Economists say the manufacturing industry is being held back by employers’ inability to locate employees with the right abilities. The number of factory jobs waiting to be filled climbed to 326,000 in March, the most since November 2007, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. “The manufacturing sector is clearly showing signs of a skills mismatch,” says Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays in New York. “It is likely to weigh on manufacturing growth.” The hiring rate for the industry was 2.2% in March compared with 2.9% in November 2007, according to DOL. “There’s a sharp divergence on what’s happening on the opening side and what’s happening on the hiring side,” underscoring the skills mismatch, states Maki.
Employers in half of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s 12 regions “reported having difficulty finding qualified workers, especially for certain high-skilled positions,” the central bank said April 11 in its “beige book” business survey. Federal Reserve policy makers are debating the extent to which a skills mismatch is contributing to unemployment as they consider whether more stimulus is needed to spur hiring.