I have some recruiting and hiring advice to offer in the face of these facts, but let's first look at the current state of the tire industry and wider economy.
July brought big economic news when the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates to their highest level since 2001. Rising borrowing and debt-service costs will probably be with us for the foreseeable future, which could lead some businesses to scale back plans for expansion or upgrading equipment. It could also lead, of course, to a general recession, though that hasn't happened yet.
In July, the economy created 187,000 new jobs, a bit below expectations, and far below the 568,000 created in July 2022, but it's still not a recessionary number. The unemployment rate remains very low at 3.5%, and second-quarter economic growth came in at a respectable 2.4%. Price inflation for June was only 0.2%.
Total employment in rubber product manufacturing and tire manufacturing both rose modestly in the latest data (for June) to 136,700 and 59,600, respectively. A year ago (June 2022) employment was a bit higher in rubber product manufacturing at 137,200, and in tires a bit lower at 58,400.
Overall, both the industry and economic data remain middling. Either a soft landing or a recession is probably coming, but there still is too much fog to see which it will be.
The data are crystal clear, however, where the aging of Baby Boomers is concerned.
Let's consider the implications of that.
Declining birth rates and rising life expectancy both play a role in the current labor-market situation. The good news for the economy is that as life expectancy has risen, many older Americans are working longer than their parents did.
In the tire industry, for sure, many enjoy their work and want to keep doing it as playing golf full-time isn't something they seem to be interested in just yet — at least that's what most executives in this bracket tell me.
That's good news for hiring managers, too, because many of these employees have skills that may not be easy to find in the younger population.
To retain valuable older employees at your firm, maintain an age-inclusive work environment and also think about offering flexible and part-time arrangements that might appeal to those looking for a way to keep working as they age.
At the same time, don't expect Baby Boomers to work forever. Many already have retired and many more will in the coming years. You need to develop the skills to replace them.
Incentivize your young and mid-career employees to train, up-skill and advance their careers in the tire industry. Develop partnerships with academic institutions such as colleges and vocational schools so you'll have a "farm league" of young talent coming along.
These institutions do not necessarily have to be just down the street, either. The economy is global, and the internet can bring much of it to your door, so think about broadening your recruiting footprint if you can't find what you need locally.
With more than 900 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is an amazing resource (feel free to connect with me). Another advantage of technology is that artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT are as near as your keyboard. Have you played with it yet? These can help with things such as finding data and identifying demographics to target in your recruiting efforts.
It can also aid you in writing job descriptions and interview questions. Just ask ChatGPT questions and see what ideas it comes back with. Between tools like these and an evolving workforce, it's a brave new world. We need to stay brave and evolve with it to thrive.
You may reach Mike Cioffi directly via email: [email protected].