Lehigh Valley
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Employment Trends
March 2011

    What kind of jobs are being created? Some recent studies suggest that the new jobs being created in our current economy pay less and offer fewer work hours than the ones they replaced since the current recession started.
    Lower-wage industries like retail and food preparation accounted for roughly 23 % of the jobs lost during the recession, but only 49 % of the jobs gained over the last year.
    Higher-wage industries accounted for 40 % of the jobs lost in the current recession, but add up to just 14 % of the new jobs gained. In other words, low paying jobs are increasing as a percentage of total jobs, while high-paying jobs are on the decline.
    The percentage of workers who have part-time jobs but want full-time employment surged in mid-February to approximately 19.6 %. This percentage is almost as high as it was before this weak recovery began. This suggests that a large number of the new jobs created over the last year are part-time. An economy with a high percentage of low-paying and part-time jobs isn't a strong economy.

  • Continued growth in positions at all levels in retail and food service.
  • Continued growth in warehousing, and distribution job openings.
  • Continued growth in customer service and other back-office positions.
  • Continued need for technically educated and experienced chemical engineers.
  • Continued growth in the need for workers in all healthcare fields.
  • Wages have remained relatively stable for the past year, (except in extremely high demand occupations Ex. System programmers, nurses and specifically trained engineers).
  • The current workforce is not as quick to leave their current employment for other opportunities due to the relatively unsure economic situation.
  • Employers are recognizing that for today's job seekers, fringe benefits and respect for personal time are critically important.
  • Over the next 5 years in the labor force area, firms will need to allocate the need for additional funds and time for training.

  • The availability of workers with skilled trades background has already dropped substantially even though we are only in the primary stages of recovery.
  • Evidence such as the purchasing managers index, employment numbers, average weekly working hours and factory orders, and the recent favorable consumer price index support the sentiment that our economy is in a slow recovery mode.
  • Local employers are already experiencing a severe shortage of qualified applicants for district center managers, warehouse/lift truck operator positions with appropriate work attitudes.
  • Over the past year all firms have substantial increase in premiums for medical coverage. At this time the majority of employers require some level of co-payment.

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