The U.S. economy is showing positive signs of life in the first part of 2021. The latest measure indicates a healthy annual growth rate of 6.4%. A new round of federal relief payments started hitting Americans’ bank accounts in March, contributing to a 21% increase in personal income and a jump in consumer spending across income groups. As more people get vaccinated and feel comfortable eating in restaurants, shopping in stores, and getting on airplanes again, the economy is expected to receive another boost.
But even as economic activity begins to rebound and the national unemployment rate remains stable, manufacturers are struggling to hire enough workers to fill essential positions in their plants. Staffing shortages lead to supply chain delays, product shortages, and price increases and are tied to a number of causes, including:
- A surge in new e-commerce positions that often pay better than factory jobs
- Absences due to COVID-19 or family obligations
- People who are wary of working in close quarters with others on the factory floor
- Some manufacturing positions require specialized training
- Fewer people are looking for jobs, and older employees are leaving the workforce during the pandemic
Manufacturers are going to great lengths to recruit new hires and keep up with increased demand, but it’s an uphill battle. They are competing against e-commerce companies not only for employees but also for market share. Consumers have made the switch to online shopping, many because of health and safety concerns, and some of their behaviors may be permanent.
According to the PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey in March, a larger number of people say they have been shopping more or exclusively online compared to in-store. The survey shows that safety is a priority for 49% urban consumers, and 86% are likely to continue shopping online even after pandemic restrictions lift.
In a tight labor market, employers benefit from enlisting the expertise of staffing specialists. If your company is encountering challenges staffing your factory, warehouse, or distribution center, you may need an experienced staffing partner to help you recruit, hire, and retain workers.
Learn more about the benefits of working with a staffing partner.