Survey Shows U.S. Hourly Workforce Has More Power Than Ever

Survey Shows U.S. Hourly Workforce Has More Power Than Ever

EmployBridge is America’s largest industrial staffing firm. Today they released the results of its annual employee opinion survey, which gauges preferences and expectations among U.S. hourly workers. Soliciting 18,505 responses from workers representing the manufacturing and logistics industries across 45 states. “Voice of the Blue-Collar Worker” is believed to be the largest survey ever conducted on the hourly-worker population.

Current strong economic conditions are increasing the demand for blue-collar workers. For the first time in over a decade there are more open jobs than available workers. Creating increased competition for low-wage earners who now have their choice of employers. What has traditionally been perceived as a replaceable, low-value segment of the workforce. Is today more empowered than ever and willing to change employers if their needs are not met.

The survey shows this when looking for a new job. The initial pay ratejob security and benefits are the most important factors for hourly workers. But employees accept jobs and remain in jobs for different reasons. Top factors for remaining in existing jobs were a great work cultureschedule and the ability to learn new skills.

“Company culture and the opportunity to learn new skills are top factors in remaining in a job. Especially for a significant number of blue-collar workers.” Says EmployBridge CEO Tom Bickes. “Employers should be mindful of these incentives, or risk losing good workers.”

Survey results show 26 percent of employed hourly workers were actively pursuing new jobs. And an additional 30 percent were willing to consider a new job if an opportunity presented itself.

The high demand for hourly workers is causing wages to rise. National average pay rates for our logistics and manufacturing workers have increased from $12.45 in 2017 to $13.87 in 2019. Of course, high cost areas around the country command even higher wages.

Innovative shift scheduling. In addition to increased pay (commonly known as shift differentials), may help staff positions on second and third shifts. Most workers surveyed (54 percent) prefer a reliable, five-day-a-week, first shift schedule. An increase of $1.30 per hour would motivate 72% of respondents working first shift to work a second/third-shift job. The survey also revealed that only 14 percent of the workforce prefers 12-hour shifts. Which are common in the supply chain industry.

Despite the strong economy, there are currently 7.3 million unfilled jobs in America, and a 50-year-low labor participation rate. One reason for the low participation rate may be this. While the data shows clear pathways for growth among blue-collar workers, those who don’t adapt risk falling behind. Due to the rapidly changing industrial landscape—largely driven by new technology.

In what is likely a direct response to the rapid technological changes. 95 percent of survey respondents indicated they’d invest regular personal time to learn a new skill; of those, nearly a third were willing to invest at least five hours of personal time a week.

“The survey shows that Americans are hungry for opportunities for skills-building. So they don’t wake up one day and feel like their talents are irrelevant.” Says EmployBridge Senior Vice President Brian Devine. “The skills gap is projected to keep widening, and trillions of dollars in economic impact hang in the balance.”

Survey results also revealed 90 percent of workers were interested in apprenticeships, and 38 percent were “extremely interested.”

SURVEY METHODOLOGY AND HISTORY

The 2019 survey was conducted from Feb. 11 to Mar. 22. It solicited 18,505 responses from workers in 45 states. Of those respondents, 12,171 represented the manufacturing industry and 6,334 represented the logistics industry.

This employee opinion survey is in its 12th year. The inaugural survey was conducted in 2007. In response to a lack of available data on the work preferences and expectations of hourly, blue-collar workers. Today, EmployBridge and its specialty workforce divisions—ResourceMFG, ProLogistix, Select, Remedy and Westaff—continue this expansive body of research. The goal is to shed light on the unique factors that attract and motivate the blue-collar workforce comprising the U.S. supply chain. EmployBridge’s specialty workforce divisions use this data to more effectively recruit and manage blue-collar workers on behalf of its customers.

About EmployBridge
As workforce specialists, EmployBridge provides value-added workforce solutions and job opportunities. Through focused specialty divisions including ResourceMFG, ProLogistix, ProDrivers, Select, RemX, Westaff and Remedy Intelligent Staffing. EmployBridge combines the advantages of national scale, in-depth local market knowledge, supply-chain-specific expertise, and powerful recruiting and retention tools. And is recognized by Staffing Industry Analysts as America’s largest industrial staffing firm. The company puts more than 400,000 temporary associates to work annually in 48 states through a network of 400+ offices. In 2018, EmployBridge provided more than 159 million work hours to 12,000 customers, generating more than $3.1 billion in revenue. EmployBridge is also helping close the skills gap in America’s supply chain. By providing free, career-focused skills development to its temporary associates through the firm’s Better WorkLife Academy. 

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Ivy Heffernan

Ivy Heffernan, student of Economics at Buckingham University. Junior Analyst at HeffX and experienced marketing director.

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