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Editor’s Note: Expanding Economy’s Need for Skilled Labor

Q4 2014
On the third anniversary of National Manufacturing Day — October 3, 2014 — the Labor Department reported that unemployment fell to 5.9 percent in September — the lowest level in six years! Analysts also predicted hiring would remain solid, as business investment and consumer spending are increasing, and the annual pace of economic growth is expected to remain above 3 percent.

PwC’s Q3 2014 Manufacturing Barometer projects company revenue growth of 5.6 percent over the next 12 months, although there are concerns about the impacts of legislative/regulatory and tax policies. According to Bobby Bono, PwC’s U.S. industrial manufacturing leader, …”management teams believe they are making the right decisions to grow, but remain leery of external factors beyond their control.”

The PwC report also indicates 52 percent of U.S. industrial manufacturers plan to add employees to their workforces over the upcoming year. More than 30 percent of those with such plans said the most sought-after workers are skilled laborers. This requirement was also on the minds of those who responded to the 2013 Area Development Corporate Survey: availability of skilled labor was their number-one concern in the location/expansion decision process. Interestingly, a lack of skilled labor is also cause for concern in the U.S. construction industry, where spending reached its highest level this summer since 2008. In this issue, we examine the availability of skilled labor factor and the next nine most important site selection criteria in more detail.

The second-most-important factor is highway accessibility — not surprising considering it is “the lifeblood of robust commerce,” according to National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons. The nation’s aging infrastructure is in dire need of upgrades, and Congress needs to focus on long-term spending plans, Timmons further notes. NAM outlines its recommendations in a report entitled “Catching Up — Greater Focus Needed to Achieve a More Competitive Infrastructure.”

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