This begs an obvious question. If we are truly in an economic expansion, where can the unemployed, the underemployed and those unhappy in their current positions look for job opportunities? The most recent issue of Time magazine features as its cover story, “Where The Jobs Are”. In their report they look at the U.S. economy as a whole and focus on specific sectors that appear poised for job growth (and others that do not). In this blog I will attempt to draw some inferences and extrapolate from their analyses.
The first point they make is that there were more jobs lost in The Great Recession of 2007 – 09, an estimated 8 million in the United States, than in the last four recessions combined. Nariman Behravesh, chief economist for HIS Global Insight estimates that it will take a long time, at least until 2015 to return to the six percent (or full unemployment) level.
A second key issue is that many companies have money to spend on plant, equipment and people but they need to see increasing sales and consumer confidence to begin hiring. Another piece of good news is that the aggregate job openings in the various employment websites has increased from 2.1 million to 5 million. A fraction of these openings are in logistics and transportation. So where are the jobs?
Career-Builder.com reports that 27% of the companies it surveyed across all industries are adding sales people. This suggests that sales is one of the first areas to take a hit in tough times and one of the first areas where companies invest to drive a turnaround in revenues. Transportation and Logistics should follow a similar pattern.
As sales ramp up, drivers will be needed to move the freight. If the housing sector remains soft in the U.S. due to the continuing number of foreclosures, this may cause a shift from construction to truck driving. Similarly, the downsizing in the auto industry may provide another source of drivers and freight transportation personnel.
Technology jobs are also expected to be in demand. In fact this is the second fastest growth sector after biomedical engineers. As highlighted in the Time article, “the boom in tech related jobs isn’t limited to the technology sector”. Demand for green technology is on the rise. Carriers will continue to look at how to increase productivity and reduce costs (e.g. hybrid trucks). Lean supply chains and lean manufacturing will continue to be important initiatives.
As the U.S. dollar declines in value against other currencies, this will create opportunities for people who can play a role in export shipping, including shipping to Canada. This will be a growth area. There will be requirements for people who speak multiple languages and who are familiar with export shipping. There will be opportunities for transportation and forwarding companies that specialize in overseas shipping. From a manufacturing perspective, agriculture, aircraft and high tech are expected to flourish as exports grow. Also as the economies in China, and India ramp up, they will need minerals, coal, gas and oil. This will create demand in the energy and mining sectors and demand for transportation services providers that can service these industries.
We should not forget that we will be heading into one of the peak baby boomer retirement periods. Some of those people born immediately after World War 2 will be retiring as the reach age 65 or beyond. This will likely create jobs in middle and senior management for skilled but younger mid and senior management personnel who have the capabilities to move up to the next level.
There is no quick fix that can produce a sustainable job creation engine. This is no consolation for people who have been unemployed for some time. On the other hand, there will continue to be openings in many sectors and professions if the economy can remain on its positive growth track.