Hiring Workers for Manufacturing Jobs Isn’t All That Hard

FRED has some new data. Isn’t that exciting? They now have several new series from DHI Group that measure how difficult it is for firms to hire people. I was curious about the manufacturing sector, so here’s the data:

As you can see, both average duration of job vacancies and average search intensity to fill jobs was pretty flat through the middle of last year. Average vacancy duration went up a bit in mid-2016 and companies responded by recruiting a little harder. Very quickly, vacancy duration returned to 30 days, roughly the average of the past five years.

What this tells us is that it has gotten a little harder to find people in the manufacturing sector over the past couple of years, and companies have had to work a little harder to fill their positions. But only a little.

However, if you look at this over a longer timeframe, what you see is that over the past five years, vacancy duration has been consistently higher than it was during the aughts, but recruiting intensity has been consistently lower. What this suggests is that for the past five years manufacturing companies have been deliberately leaving vacancies open longer than they used to. If lack of qualified workers was really a problem, they would have recruited harder. But until very recently, they didn’t.