COVID-19’s Impact on the Demand for Manufacturing and Production Workers in 2021

by Allison Boden, on Jul 19, 2021 5:06:16 PM

At this time last year, COVID-19 dominated the news and companies were anxiously trying to assess how the pandemic would affect their business. Similarly, Site Selection Group, a full-service location advisory, real estate and economic incentive services firm, was grasping to find real-time data points that would shed some light industrial workforce trends. (See our blog from last spring). A little over one year later, we find it fascinating to see how the pandemic is reflected in key workforce statistics.  

Assessing labor market trends in the ‘New Normal’

The long-term prognosis for any labor market will be heavily influenced by the industry composition of that specific community. Site Selection Group is able to compare the production workforce demand in metro areas this year compared to last year using various data sources.

While any workforce analysis should include organic research such as interviews with existing employers, local colleges and universities, and workforce development partners, Site Selection Group leverages job posting data that can be informative in understanding competitive pressures in a market.

Job posting data for production occupations

Job posting data, one of the few nearly real-time labor market data sources, is simply the volume of job openings being advertised by existing employers. This data can be categorized by time period, geography and occupation.

Although there are a variety of relative measures that can be used with job posting data such as posting intensity and unique postings, for this analysis, we looked at how overall job postings have changed for production occupations over the last three months.

The following map represents all metro areas with a population over 1 million shaded by percent change in unique job postings for production occupations over the last 90 days. Compared to this time last year, the market looks significantly different. Many more metro areas are seeing an increase in job postings activity instead of the significant decreases we saw last year during the pandemic.


Top 10, bottom 10 metro areas for change in production job postings

The following table shows the 10 metro areas with a population greater than 1 million that had the greatest increase in unique job postings for production occupations over the last 90 days (last year, half of this list was seeing negative figures). It appears that metro areas across the country are experiencing growth in job postings for the second quarter of 2021.

Metro Area % Change in Job Postings
Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI 23.90%
New Orleans-Metairie, LA 15.60%
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN 12.70%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 12.20%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 11.70%
Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI 11.00%
Kansas City, MO-KS 10.00%
Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT 10.00%
Tulsa, OK 9.00%
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 8.60%

On the other hand, the following table shows those metro areas that saw the most drastic drop in unique job postings for production occupations over the last 90 days. These markets tend to represent large metros that previously experienced significant growth which is now slowing for a variety of reasons (real estate availability, workforce availability, industry trends, etc).

Metro Area % Change in Job Postings
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV -25.80%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC -10.40%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL -9.50%
Pittsburgh, PA -7.70%
Jacksonville, FL -7.70%
Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX -6.40%
St. Louis, MO-IL -6.40%
Fresno, CA -5.70%
Raleigh-Cary, NC -5.10%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX -4.90%
Topics:Distribution CentersEconomic IncentivesSite Selection GroupSite SelectionLocation Advisory



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