- According to the USDA's Rural Manufacturing at a Glance, 2017 Edition, the manufacturing industry employs more workers in rural versus urban regions, Thomasnet.com reported Wednesday.
- Manufacturing represents 21% percent of rural non-farm employee incomes and 14% of jobs, while urban manufacturing represents just 11% of earnings and 7% of jobs.
- Since 2001, rural manufacturing has shed 21% of available jobs, while total rural employment has increased by 7%. This means that manufacturing employment is now a smaller fraction of the employment landscape within rural areas.
The demands of modern manufacturing equipment is fueling the current hiring crunch.
At present, the most productive areas of manufacturing — computer and semiconductor — are also the most technologically advanced. This could be due to the fact that the very areas that involve the most innovation are those most likely to utilize the latest technology, and therefore attract the most talented staff. However, since productivity and efficiency depend on up to date equipment, it's likely that while computers continue to dominate U.S. manufacturing production, other types of factories are not far behind.
This issue is driving the gap between hiring needs and available, properly trained manufacturing workers. Because new equipment requires technological skill unavailable without specialized training, many manufacturing employers are having to work harder to find staff. Some strategies used are investing in marketing, vocational programs, job fairs, STEM training, and even four year college degrees. Though the job-to-worker ratio was at 6:1 as of late July, industry analysts predict a worsening employment landscape for manufacturers in general.