3% of Americans Just Quit Their Jobs. Manufacturing is Hiring!

One of the enduring headlines of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the U.S. monthly jobs report. With its historic ups and downs, the job market has been a rollercoaster since early 2020. Now, there’s another milestone in the story of American labor in the COVID-19 era. The Department of Labor recently released statistics indicating up to 3% of the total American workforce quit their jobs in August 2021.

Where did all those workers go? And what does this mean for the U.S. economy? As new data emerges, answers to these questions are becoming clear — and based on findings, manufacturing could stand to benefit.

Why are people quitting their jobs?

There are any number of reasons behind the current mass employee exodus. Workers cite  poor compensation, inconvenient hours, and career stagnation as primary reasons for their departure. In addition, more remote work opportunities have opened up since the pandemic hit. With so many current openings, workers have more leverage when looking for a new job. As economist Nick Bunker said recently, “This really elevated rate of people quitting their job is a sign that workers have lots of confidence and they have relatively stronger bargaining positions than they’ve had in the past,” Bunker said. “There’s lots of demand, and people are seizing this opportunity and quitting their job.”

Workers believe there are better opportunities out there. But while it’s true there are a growing number of jobs available, many come with a catch: Workers may need to learn new skills to land them.

Some industries suffer more than others

The retail, restaurant, and customer service industries are losing employees at an exponential rate. The U.S. Department of Labor found that 892,000 restaurant, bar, and hotel workers left their jobs in August. Around 721,000 retail workers quit within the same period. All in all, 38% of workers who left their jobs in August were from the retail, restaurant, and hospitality sectors.

But manufacturing and construction industries experienced relatively little increase in numbers of departing workers. The transportation, warehousing, and business service industries were also largely unaffected.

Manufacturing is ready for a worker influx

The manufacturing industry stands to benefit from the increase in available workers. Manufacturing jobs typically pay better than retail or restaurant positions, and they usually offer more room for advancement. While many applicants will need to learn additional skills to join the manufacturing industry, plenty of companies now offer excellent training opportunities and will seek to capitalize on the growing labor pool. According to Sarah Hartwick, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association vice president of education and workforce policy, “Manufacturers are so in need of people, they’re willing to provide a lot of the on-the-job training and work with community colleges for credentialing, so these individuals can actually earn some credits and maybe even an associate’s degree while learning to do the job.”

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association recently revealed there are around 800,000 manufacturing job openings across the United States. With the right recruiting strategy, the manufacturing industry could take full advantage of the job market’s influx of new applicants.

Is this the push manufacturing needs?

Manufacturing is in dire need of workers. And with a significant portion of the population looking to shift careers, industry jobs are finally getting the visibility they deserve. Manufacturers should welcome new candidates with open arms and prepare to provide training, upskilling, ongoing education, and a clear career path. People are looking for a better standard of work, and manufacturing can give it to them.

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