"The best social program is a good job," President Ronald Reagan once remarked. Those words ring especially true during times like today's, with high unemployment, modest hiring and government expenditures off the charts.
As much as the unemployment rate has been steadily declining for the better part of three years, it's still stuck near 8%, and tens of millions of Americans are either out of work, working less than they want, or have simply given up looking. And yet, unbeknownst to many, the number of available jobs has been steadily rising, and now sits at a four-year high of nearly 3.2 million vacant positions.
While many companies are still, understandably, reluctant to hire, plenty of others are not and in fact are actively looking to add employees. In the attached video, the third part of our Who's Hiring? series, we've dug up a pair of industries that are not only hiring, but struggling to find the right people to fill good jobs. Jobs that, with the right mix of training and experience could bring salaries of more than $100,000 a year.
For example, President Obama's recent re-election campaign was, in no small part, built upon the comeback of the auto industry. The hiring has been brisk, and not just at the Big 3 manufacturers -- it's been even more pronounced at the supporting and surrounding businesses. Data from the Department of Labor project that the need will be above average for auto service technicians in the coming years, and that the auto industry is going to need to find, train and hire more than 100,000 new people who can get under the hood and keep our cars and trucks running smoothly.
"You can make six figures as an auto technician" says Rich Orbain, the manager of General Motors Auto Service Education Program. "If that person has the motivation and skill and the drive, they can do it" he says, adding that despite long-standing programs at 61 community colleges across the country, General Motors (GM) is currently only getting about 500 of the 2500 trained new technicians it needs each year. Recruiting, hiring and training good workers is no easy task, but it's one that GM and thousands of its dealers are trying to get ahead of. It's also why we traveled to Detroit for an inside look at the problem -- and the solution. Let's just say this: The job of an auto service tech today is as much about laptops as lube jobs, and the pay, benefits and opportunity to grow that come with it are very real. While the average service technician can expect to pull in an average of $42,000 a year, experience and drive can lead to those higher salaries Orbain references.
At the same, we'll take you inside another core American industry that's fretting about its future staffing needs and trying new and different things to attract qualified workers. In this case, I'm talking about the trucking business and its need for an estimated 330,000 tractor-trailer drivers over the next 10 years. The job requires some upfront costs and time to obtain a commercial drivers license but what awaits is an average salary of $55,000 a year and the potential to make much more with additional training and experience.
Our team traveled to Omaha, Neb., to meet with the president of Werner Enterprises (WERN) to see how one of the biggest players in the business is addressing this shortage of drivers. Not only are they training more, paying better and putting their people in an almost brand new fleet of trucks, they're also reinventing themselves in a way that allows their drivers to get home to their families a lot more often.
We all know that the job market is tough right now, but what you may not know is that many businesses are still adding to their headcount and looking to grow. So if you're out of work or know someone who is, and you find yourself wondering who's hiring, here's hoping the attached piece gets your wheels turning and moves you closer to your next new job.