President-elect Donald Trump wants to “bring the jobs back.”
But there already are many job openings right here in America, even in manufacturing. The bigger challenge is filling them.
In October, there were 322,000 job openings in manufacturing — about the same level as in 2007. It has tripled since hitting a low of 99,000 during the recession in 2009.
Earlier this year, openings rose as high as 400,000 in April, one of highest marks since the Labor Department first started counting the figure in 2000.
Hiring has picked up a little but it hasn’t kept pace with openings in recent years.
Experts caution that the rise in job openings doesn’t compensate for the millions of manufacturing jobs lost since 2000.
“It’s nice to have those jobs back, but the rate of change is not such that you’re going to have a renaissance in the Rust Belt,” says Joseph Fuller, a professor at Harvard Business School, who has researched job skill trends.
The gap between job openings and job hires in manufacturing has widened this year. There were 271,000 hires in October, meaning, in theory, about 51,000 manufacturing job openings went unfilled in October.
A few reasons — both good and bad — help explain why American factories have plenty of openings but not enough hires.
1. Improving job market: When the job market gains momentum, people start moving jobs, leaving openings that need to be filled. The unemployment rate is down to 4.6% from 10% in 2009 — a sign that the job market has recovered.
2. Job skills gap: Many employers can’t find the workers with advanced job skills required for new types of positions, such as 3D manufacturing or operating complex machinery.
3. Passive recruitment: Some employers post job openings once they see orders for their goods increase. But they may want to be sure the pick-up is here to stay and take a “wait and see” approach before actually hiring a person.