Originally published in Crain’s Detroit Business on December 8, 2015
Southeast Michigan workers are benefiting from strong employer demand, which is at a record high following the Great Recession, but employers are having trouble finding the talent they need for success.
In quarter three (Q3) 2015, the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) found that regional employers posted over 137,500 online job ads—a 12.5 percent increase over the previous quarter, and a 60.1 percent increase compared to the same quarter one year ago. For more information, see WIN’s recently released quarter three labor market reports.
While demand for workers has continued to increase for over a year, the lack of aligned worker supply has employers struggling to fill many key open positions. This is in part because the labor force in in southeast Michigan (and the rest of the nation) plummeted during the recession but has failed to recover. Workers have either retired, decided to go back to school/stay in school longer, or otherwise stopped looking for traditional employment. Another reason is that there are simply not enough workers with education and skills that match top-demand occupations.
Some jobs feel the pinch of these dynamics more than others. The supply-and-demand occupation report from Career Builder includes a hiring indicator measuring labor pressure, which determines the difficulty of recruiting for a particular occupation in a specific location compared to all other occupations and locations. Just six of the top 25 of the top in-demand occupations in southeast Michigan had a rating high enough for recruiting to be considered moderately easy or better, meaning that 19 of the remaining top 25 are difficult to hire for. Below are a few examples of the labor pressure metric, highlighting three of the top jobs in southeast Michigan. NOTE: The Career Builder tool examines the ratio of job postings and jobseekers using paid online job ads only.
A hiring indicator score in the yellow or red area signals that the occupation is experiencing more hiring difficulty than an occupation with a number in the green. Secretaries and administrative assistants have a hiring indicator of 84, meaning that 84% of all other occupations and locations have more difficulty recruiting talent. In contrast, truck drivers have a hiring indicator of 21, meaning that just 21% of all other occupations and locations have more difficulty recruiting. Nine of the top jobs in southeast Michigan, highlighted in WIN’s Q3 2015 report, had a hiring indicator score lower than 50, signaling that recruiting for these positions was relatively difficult in southeast Michigan compared to all other occupations.
The table below highlights the labor pressure detail for the top 25 posted jobs in southeast Michigan during Q3 2015.
Hiring for the top in-demand jobs in southeast Michigan may be made more difficult for several reasons, including technical skill and higher qualification requirements. For example, two-thirds of the top 25 occupations during Q3 2015 required a bachelor’s degree, a credential that just one-fourth of Michiganders hold. Of the six occupations with relative ease in recruiting, just one—sales representatives, non-technical non-scientific products—required a bachelor’s degree.
Quarter three is historically when employment and employer demand peaks for many counties in southeast Michigan, and the data collected often points to upcoming trends. In this case, anticipated trends include continuously high and growing employer demand and relatively low labor force participation. Should the labor force in southeast Michigan (and the nation, for that matter) continue to maintain lower education levels and a mismatch in technical skills and experiences, employers will continue to have difficulty finding talent to fill their open positions and employment growth with slow.
***The follow-up blog in this series will dive deeper into the educational attainment and training requirements of the top jobs in the region.
This blog was developed with data and research compiled by Hector Acosta, research and data analyst at WIN.
 The hiring indicator score is calculated using data from CareerBuilder, a third party aggregator, and Economic Modeling Specialists, Intl (EMSI).