Matt Guse would hire a dozen machinists — if only he could find them.
The owner of MRS Machining, a maker of precision metal parts in rural Augusta, Wis., Mr. Guse finds business is rebounding so quickly as the pandemic’s effect eases that his 47-worker shop is short-handed.
“I’ve turned down a million dollars’ worth of work in the last two weeks,” he said. “Doing that, it’s hard to go to bed at night when you put your head to the pillow. I have open capacity, but I need more people.”
After a sharp downturn when the pandemic hit last year, factories are humming again. But the recovery’s speed has left employers scrambling. Despite huge layoffs — manufacturing employment initially dropped by 1.4 million — some companies find themselves desperate for workers.
In other cases, shortages of parts like semiconductors and supply chain disruptions have made orders hard to fill and created fresh uncertainty.
orders for durable goods — like cars and appliances — rose half a percentage point in March, prompting Barclays to lift its tracking estimate of economic growth for the first quarter to 1.4 percent, or 5.6 percent at an annualized rate.
On Thursday, the government will release its initial reading on economic growth in the first three months of the year, and manufacturing is expected to be among the bright spots. The consensus of analysts polled by Bloomberg is that the report will show gross domestic product expanded by 1.7 percent, up from 1.3 percent.
At one point, factory production was down substantially because of the pandemic, but it should return to pre-Covid-19 levels by the third quarter of this year, according to Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers.
work in factories. Two decades ago, that figure stood at just over 17 million.