As the managing partner for McKinsey in North America, I talk to CEOs every week, and I keep hearing the same thing across all industries and regions of the US: We’re in one of the most bewildering labor markets in a generation.
Job openings remain dramatically higher than pre-pandemic levels. Yet the December unemployment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a disproportionate number of minorities, younger workers and people without four-year degrees remain unemployed.
There are more open jobs in US manufacturing today than there are people in Seattle, a number that will likely grow as the US invests more in infrastructure.
The sector is also undergoing a seismic shift, transitioning from the dirty and dangerous work of the past to a more sustainable, digital and automated future. The Rework America Alliance — a Markle Foundation-led partnership of civil rights groups, nonprofits, labor unions and private sector companies, including McKinsey, collaborating to help low-wage workers move into better jobs — found that manufacturing is one of the industries most likely to see growth, but the industry won’t be able to meet this moment if people outside the sector can’t picture how their experience might allow them to pursue and grow into these open roles. Employers can help to break down these perceived barriers to access by considering candidates from other industries who can build on their existing experience and communicating which skills may be transferrable, such as interpersonal communications.