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WIN Reports: 2015 Southeast Michigan Employment Reaches Pre-Recession Levels

Southeast Michigan employment increased throughout 2015 reaching 2009 pre-recession levels, with more than 2.3 million individuals working, following five years of continuous growth. The year closed with 32,514 more individuals in jobs than in 2014, for 1.4 percent annual growth. These findings, among others, can be found in data compiled by the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) in its fourth quarter labor market report.

Despite the gains, however, qualified, available talent has become a scarce commodity in the 9-county region, which includes Genesee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties. Following a national trend, large disparities between job demand and labor force participation exist. Lisa Katz, executive director for WIN, says, “Companies are seeking new talent but labor force participation is not keeping pace, residing, in fact, at its lowest levels since the 1970s.” Adds Katz: “This, which can be attributed to vast changes in demographics, including baby boomers retiring en masse, women as a lesser force in the labor market due to the increased cost of childcare, and millennials opting to enter the workforce later in lieu of higher-ed degrees.”

Online job postings in 2015 reached and retained record high levels with nearly a half million ads posted in southeast Michigan. Employer demand increased by nearly 33 percent in 2015 compared to 2014 as employers placed 122,000 more job ads in 2015 than in 2014.

“Continued high posting levels in the fourth quarter of 2015 position the region for sustained employment growth, yet, if our labor force remains flat or continues to decline, employers will have to find other means of attracting new workers,” notes Katz. “That could include adopting major policy changes, minimizing job and education requirements, and advancing training and internship opportunities for students.”

Nearly 60 percent of total posting growth in the region occurred in WIN-analyzed clusters in Q4 2015, and each cluster individually experienced annual posting gains of at least 42 percent in Q4 2015 compared to Q4 2014. Total postings in the WIN clusters included:
• Retail and Hospitality – 26,130 postings
• IT – 18,223 postings
• Health Care – 16,862 postings
• Engineers and Designers – 10,541 postings
• Skilled Trades and Technicians – 3,882 postings

Approximately 40 percent of posting activity occurred in clusters not analyzed by WIN. The most notable job postings outside of the WIN clusters occurred in the following areas during Q4 2015:
• Business Management (general managers, business operations, human resources)
• Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (truck drivers, material movers)
• Financial Management (auditors, finance specialists, bookkeepers)
The top in-demand jobs included:
• Software Developers, Applications – 5,684 postings
• Registered Nurses – 5,430 postings
• Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers – 4,088 postings
• Retail Salespersons – 3,601 postings
• Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing (except technical and
scientific products) – 3,401 postings

Throughout Q4 2015, the most notable trends included:
• Demand for software developers continued to grow dramatically, with 3,209 new postings since Q4 2014, marking a 129 percent increase
• Postings for registered nurses increased by 338, up 6.6 percent over Q3 2015
• Demand for retail sales persons declined by 597 postings, a 14.2 percent decline
from 4,198 postings in Q3 2015
• New to the top twenty occupations since 2014 included business intelligence
analysts, maintenance and repair workers, and sales managers
• No longer in the top twenty occupations compared to one year ago included
childcare workers, civil engineers, and computer user support specialists

The full report can be viewed at: http://www.win-semich.org/data-research/quarterly-
reports/.