As most economic reports indicate, we are close or just past a peaking economy, and manufacturers across the country are experiencing what it is like to hire and retain a qualified workforce in a market that has reached full employment. To help our clients assess workforce conditions in the manufacturing sector, Site Selection Group, a full-service location advisory and economic incentives firm, evaluates and monitors talent trends for key occupations. Assessing a community’s pool of available production workers is as critical as ever in identifying the optimal location for new site selection projects.

Production workforce growth occurring throughout the country

Looking forward to the next five years, the data suggest geographic diversity in production occupational growth, with several metros in the West and the Southeast experiencing high growth, suggesting a healthy manufacturing sector across the nation.

Top 20 metro areas for production talent growth 2019-2024

Metro Area 2019-2024 Projected Occupation Growth
Reno, NV 21.4%
Peoria, IL 12.6%
Greeley, CO 10.9%
Provo-Orem, UT 10.6%
Ogden-Clearfield, UT 10.3%
Charleston-North Charleston, SC 10.0%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 9.9%
Savannah, GA 9.5%
Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX 8.5%
Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA 8.1%
Salt Lake City, UT 7.3%
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN 7.3%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 7.3%
Springfield, MO 7.2%
Gainesville, GA 6.8%
Spartanburg, SC 6.7%
San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA 6.7%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 6.7%
Tuscaloosa, AL 6.7%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 6.3%

Overall increase in job posting activity

Job postings data reveal insights into demand for labor within production occupations. Site Selection Group utilizes online job postings data via EMSI to evaluate labor demand conditions within the sector. The table below shows the top 20 markets with the greatest change in demand for production workers over the past year.

Top 20 metro areas with highest growth in production occupation demand

Metro Area Avg. Unique Postings (Sep 2017 - Aug 2018) Avg. Unique Postings (Sep 2018 - Aug 2019) One Year Change
Jackson, MS 126 243 92.1%
Watertown-Fort Atkinson, WI 67 128 90.2%
Oshkosh-Neenah, WI 132 246 86.5%
Utica-Rome, NY 59 107 81.9%
El Paso, TX 94 170 81.6%
Monroe, MI 64 113 77.3%
Asheville, NC 169 286 69.0%
Racine, WI 96 160 67.1%
Fargo, ND-MN 90 150 66.5%
Wausau-Weston, WI 100 166 65.4%
Tupelo, MS 85 140 64.2%
Bakersfield, CA 106 172 62.6%
Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI 1025 1667 62.5%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 1416 2299 62.4%
Pottsville, PA 77 121 57.3%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 71 110 55.7%
Lincoln, NE 103 159 54.5%
Logan, UT-ID 68 104 53.3%
Burlington, NC 69 105 52.4%
La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN 88 133 52.1%

Northeast and Midwest experiencing higher posting intensity

Posting intensity, that is, the average number of times the same job will appear on different job boards, is another way to measure demand for labor. In short, if companies place their job postings on, for example, 10 boards instead of five, it indicates they are working harder to find talent – one sign of a tightening labor market. The table below shows the top 20 markets that experienced an uptick in job posting intensity over the past year. Increases in posting intensity are geographically diverse.

Top 20 most competitive metro areas for distribution jobs

Metro Area Avg. Posting Intensity (Sep 2017 - Aug 2018) Avg. Posting Intensity (Sep 2018 - Aug 2019) One Year Change
Jackson, MS 4.85 11.65 140.18%
Cedar Rapids, IA 4.99 7.09 42.07%
Ogden-Clearfield, UT 5.35 7.18 34.11%
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA 3.74 4.84 29.52%
Erie, PA 2.96 3.79 28.08%
Lebanon, NH-VT 5.06 6.48 28.01%
Provo-Orem, UT 3.41 4.34 27.18%
Winston-Salem, NC 4.87 6.18 26.97%
Salt Lake City, UT 4.84 6.09 25.85%
Asheville, NC 6.50 7.99 22.76%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 4.79 5.76 20.42%
Sioux Falls, SD 5.49 6.58 19.89%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 5.31 6.36 19.82%
Tucson, AZ 5.59 6.66 19.02%
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY 3.66 4.34 18.55%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 5.27 6.24 18.44%
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 6.19 7.31 18.21%
Peoria, IL 5.27 6.20 17.55%
Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT 5.79 6.79 17.28%
Springfield, MA 5.56 6.52 17.17%

While the information above provides useful insight into real-time labor market conditions, it is only one part of establishing a balanced and substantive assessment of a market. Site Selection Group works with its clients to develop a balanced analysis. We use data from many diverse sources to identify the optimal labor market for production facilities from a macro perspective to avoid the risk of locating in a sub-optimal market.

 

 Sources: EMSI/CareerBuilder. Average monthly postings and average posting intensity (i.e. total online postings of one particular job) for Production Occupations. List filtered to include only those metro areas with at least 100 average job postings in the time frames analyzed to prevent small market outliers.

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