Over 1/5 of U.S. employers have difficulty filling positions

According to the 2008 Talent Shortage Survey conducted by Manpower, 22% of the 2,000 employers participating in the survey indicated they were having difficulty filling positions even in a slowing economy. On a brighter note, this is less than the 41 percentage of U.S. firms having difficulty filling positions in 2007.  Nevertheless unfilled positions in key roles are de-railing the business plans of many organizations.  For instance, energy industry can’t keep up with demand. Backlogs for drilling rigs are out 3 to 5 years because the companies can’t find enough qualified people.  Machinery is breaking down for longer periods of time in manufacturing because employers can’t find enough maintenance technicians.

The hardest to fill positions are:

  1. Engineers
  2. Machinests/Machine Operators
  3. Skilled Manual Trades (welders, carpenters)
  4. Technicians
  5. Sales Reps
  6. Accounting and Finance Staff
  7. Mechanics
  8. Laborers
  9. IT Staff
  10. Production Operators

The U.S. isn’t alone. Over 73% of employers reported having a difficult time finding the right people.  In Japan 63% of employers can’t find skilled workers. In Hong Kong, it’s 61% and Australia, 52%.

On a worldwide basis, shortages of skilled manual labors dominate the list with nearly one-third of employers reporting hard-to-fill positions.

Source: Manpower "2008 Talent Shortage Survey"


Ira S Wolfe


  1. odd1 June 7, 2008 at 8:36 pm -

    Where are these jobs that are unfilled? Why do I not see these job vacancies advertised in the classified job section of the newspaper nor on job boards?

  2. James Hayton May 28, 2008 at 7:34 am -

    The continuing talent ‘crunch’ is being overlooked as we are all focused on the credit-crunch and energy-crunch. However, I appreciate the perspectives you bring.
    I have just blogged on one way in which employers may alleviate their problems a little – making reference to some recently published research. The blog is at: http://tinyurl.com/4a3h7f
    I would appreciate your comments.

  3. Ira Wolfe May 20, 2008 at 11:20 pm -

    You are correct in that many businesses are not willing to pay for the talent they want and need. But likewise there are thousands of people out of work that were receiving wages at levels beyond which they were qualified. Wage increases are no longer an entitlement for years of service unless you continue to contribute and advance your skills. Too many workers have been coasting toward retirement without any motivation to learn new or update old skills. It is not an employer’s obligation to pay a worker what he or she used to make if they don’t have advance skills.

  4. chris May 19, 2008 at 12:13 pm -

    These observations are incomplete. What businesses are really saying is that they can’t find the people to fill their jobs *at the current wage*. This implicit reality is often overlooked, but is not insignificant in this discussion.