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|
|Charleston-North Charleston, SC||10.0%|
|Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV||9.9%|
|Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX||8.5%|
|Salt Lake City, UT||7.3%|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA||6.7%|
|San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX||6.7%|
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|
|Watertown-Fort Atkinson, WI||67||128||90.2%|
|El Paso, TX||94||170||81.6%|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||1416||2299||62.4%|
|Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL||71||110||55.7%|
|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|
|Cedar Rapids, IA||4.99||7.09||42.07%|
|Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA||3.74||4.84||29.52%|
|Salt Lake City, UT||4.84||6.09||25.85%|
|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%|
|Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA||6.19||7.31||18.21%|
|Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT||5.79||6.79||17.28%|
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.