Manzella led an open session on the topic in addition to a closed executive session about international business and trade policy during the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) Annual Conference (February 25-28).
Manzella began by noting that the current American unemployment rate is only 4 percent.
“This is fantastic,” he said. “But we have a dismal worker participation rate for both men and women. If you can't find labor today, chances are, that problem will only become more severe.”
Manufacturing has shifted, Manzella said, leaving rural areas, where it was the previous source for many jobs. These are the same areas being hit hard by the current opioid crisis, to which many workers on disability have fallen victim. Additionally, the rate of Baby Boomers leaving the workforce is still a problem, since those long-time workers are taking their skills with them.
“As a result of all these factors, you've got tremendous vacancies,” said Manzella. “Manufacturing jobs that can't be filled are at 428,000. Construction jobs that can't be filled total 382,000.”
Manzella estimated that, by 2030, there will be a loss of revenue of $1.75 trillion for companies as a result of the skilled labor shortage.
“If you can't find the labor you need, you can't grow,” he said.