Do Manufacturers Need to Pay More to Find Workers?

Minnesota manufacturers are reportedly hiring for highly skilled positions, but they can't find qualified employees-and some say it's because they are not offering high enough salaries.

A lot of Minnesota manufacturers are looking to hire skilled workers but haven't been able to find people who can do the job, according to a Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) report.

A recent survey of manufacturers across the United States reportedly found that as many as 600,000 jobs are vacant due to a shortage of skilled workers. The poll, conducted by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, found that factories are experiencing a moderate to severe shortage of qualified workers.

Haberman Machine in Stillwater, for example, reportedly has openings for high-skilled machinist jobs that pay up to about $60,000 a year. But the company hasn't been able to fill the jobs and as a result hasn't taken on the new business it needs to grow, MPR reported.

However, current Haberman employee Mike Beedle told MPR that he isn't thrilled about the salary he gets paid. Beedle, who is a quality control technician at Haberman, added that he is now making about a third less than he did in a similar job at a medical device company that laid him off five years ago.

“[Manufacturers] don't get the skilled workers they want, but they expect a lot,” Beedle told MPR. “The more you pay, the better the worker you're going to get.”

Steve Hine, a labor market analyst with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, reportedly agreed, saying that offering “higher wages would be a natural response” if manufacturing companies want the workers they are looking for.

Manufacturing wages are still lower than those offered a few years ago before the recession. The median wage offer for skilled machinists is now about $19 an hour, compared to the $19.23 median rate offered in the fourth quarter of 2007, MPR reported.

Meanwhile, Twin Cities Business' Quarterly Economic Indicator Survey found that manufacturing is an industry in which businesses are expecting revenue increases in the quarter ending March 31; 54 percent of respondents within the sector expect an increase.

However, only 2.9 percent of respondents within the sector expect that finding qualified employees in the state will get easier. Most (65 percent) expect that it will remain the same, while 32.1 percent of respondents expect it to get harder.

Additional information from the survey-including a list of Minnesota industries most actively hiring this quarter-can be found in the February's issue of Twin Cities Business, which is available online and in print at select newsstands.

To learn more about the state of the manufacturing industry, read the MPR story here.