By Eric Joseph Esoda, CPA

According to the Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information & Analysis, manufacturing remained the top employment sector in Columbia, Tioga and Wayne counties during the month of February, 2012, and was among the top three employment sectors in three other counties – Bradford (2nd), Luzerne (3rd) and Lackawanna (3rd). In counties within which the manufacturing sector was not the largest job provider, the industry was most frequently surpassed only by the Healthcare & Social Services, Retail and/or Tourism sector(s), all of which provide significantly lower wages than manufacturing.

According to company payroll filings and voluntarily-reported statistics, manufacturers within the 11-county region of northeastern Pennsylvania supported 47,452 direct employees at the end of February at an average annual salary of $43,600. The table below shows the breakdown of total manufacturing by county. 

Table 1-A: Manufacturing Employment by County
Per PA Center for Workforce Information & Analysis

Based upon current employment levels, northeastern Pennsylvania manufacturers are on pace to provide approximately $2.1 billion of base salary compensation to their employees during 2012, and those employees will, in turn, produce more than $5.3 billion in output.

NEPIRC expects that manufacturing employment will increase in the months ahead and that the skilled worker recruiting environment will therefore become much more competitive. During the month of February and throughout early March, most NEPIRC clients reported intentions to hire additional employees due to actual or expected business growth, with most clients expressing an immediate need for entry-level shop floor positions, first-level supervisory positions and management-level positions, primarily with the Quality Assurance area. At the same time, NEPIRC’s interview with Dr. Ann Pipinski, President of Johnson College, verified that the college’s Diesel, Precision Machining, Electronics Technology and Biomedical Equipment Technology programs are all reporting 100% job placement for graduating students. In fact, many non-graduating students currently enrolled in those programs are already receiving employment offers and letters of interest from potential employers that will become effective upon their anticipated graduation in 2013 – essentially creating a “wait list” for Johnson graduates.

NEPIRC’s professional staff are working with several clients to create salary, benefits, corporate culture, employee training and worker recognition plans that will help them differentiate themselves from their competitors when vying for the same skilled workforce. NEPIRC would be happy to schedule a private consultation with your company to discuss these services and learn more about your company’s unique challenges with respect to workforce attraction, retention and performance. NEPIRC’s professionals can be reached at 570-819-8966 or via email to info@nepirc.com.