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Do You Know Airplane Mechanics? Retirement Waves Make Jobs Desperate In Some Industries

WASHINGTON (AP) – Kwasi Bando, a senior airline recruiter, stood before aviation mechanic students at graduation last month and congratulated them all on getting jobs.

When some students started nagging each other, Mr. Bando realized that perhaps not all of them had already been hired.

“Who doesn’t have a job?” asked Mr. Bando, surveying 15 immediate graduates at the Pittsburgh Aviation Institute’s training facility in Hagerstown, Maryland. “Who wouldn’t? I have work for you.”

About 70 friends and relatives gathered in the hangar where the students were training, laughing with gratitude. Of the 15 graduates, 14 got jobs, but only 1 didn’t get an interview and lined up for an interview the next day.

While it was a happy moment for the graduates, it was emblematic of the agonies of recruiters at airlines, plane manufacturers and repair shops desperately in need of mechanics. Most of the existing mechanics are outdated, Growing demand for travel.

Across the U.S. economy, other industries face similar formidable challenges. It is the replacement of a reduced workforce by the surge in retirees that began during the pandemic and has continued since. Problems are worsening in some specialized industries such as construction, manufacturing, nursing care, and accounting.

Since 2019, the proportion of retirees in the U.S. population has risen from 18% to nearly 20%, equivalent to about 3.5 million fewer workers, according to a New York Fed study. . And this trend seems certain to accelerate. The percentage of workers over the age of 55 has increased from just about 15% two decades ago to nearly 24% he.

A surge in retirees and a slowdown in immigration that began during the pandemic are key drivers of the labor shortage that continues to plague some employers.

An aging workforce also helps explain the current economic turmoil.even as The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates relentlessly Employment has remained surprisingly strong to combat high inflation. No matter what interest rates, many employers will only need to replenish their retirees.

In fact, employment growth has been stronger than economic growth suggests.economic A mediocre growth rate of 1.3% per annum Still, employment was strong, averaging about 300,000 jobs a month. The unemployment rate in April is It hit 3.4%, the lowest level in half a century.. On Friday, the government will release its May jobs report, with economists expecting a further solid increase in employment figures to about 190,000 jobs.

Firms that have to replenish their jobs tend to raise wages to attract and retain workers, but the same employers usually raise prices to cover higher labor costs, so this trend is could accelerate inflation. This dynamic complicates the Fed’s efforts to contain inflation.

More than a third of mechanics in the airline industry are between the ages of 55 and 64, according to government data. Less than 1 in 10 are under the age of 30.

“Everyone is preparing for retirement, but there aren’t enough people for the jobs,” said Mike Myers, maintenance manager at Piedmont Airlines in Hagerstown, a regional feeder for American Airlines.

Pittsburgh Aeronautical College graduates are in awe of the demand they are in. One of them, Will Gower, said he weighed multiple job openings that almost doubled the $15 an hour he earned in a retail job as a student.

“I was almost overwhelmed by how many companies would throw jobs at you. You can work anywhere there’s an airport,” said Gower, 21.

Next month, Ms. Gower and three classmates will join Ms. Bando’s company, Commut Air, for further training in Houston.

Over the past year, the air travel industry employs approximately 45,000 people, a 9% increase in employee numbers to more than 500,000. That’s three times the pace of hiring across the U.S. economy.

United Airlines said Plan to employ 15,000 workers There will be even more this year and in the years to come. It plans to add 2,300 pilots, partly to make up for the retirement of about 500. Kate Gebo, executive vice president of human resources at United Airlines, said there was an expected shortage of aircraft mechanics, with up to half of United’s mechanics already eligible for retirement.

Percentage of workers over the age of 55 in the construction industry It doubled from 2003 to 2020, almost a quarter.according to the government.

Anirvan Basu, chief economist at the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group, said in addition to the aging population, industries such as aviation maintenance and construction face other challenges. Fewer young people want jobs that are often seen as less safe and blue. collar work.

When the now-retired baby boomers started working, Bass said, “there was this idea that being a blue-collar merchant was a surefire, surefire path to prosperity.” But as factories closed across the country, “the idea became more and more that a more formal education, a bachelor’s degree, would be required to become part of the American middle class.”

As a result, there is an economic shortage of factory workers, backhoe operators, welders, electricians and other skilled trade workers, he said.

If there is one trend that may be mitigated, if not resolved, it is the re-entry of under-retirement Americans into the job market, possibly driven by stable employment and higher wage levels. That’s what I’m doing The proportion of these adults who have a job or are looking for a job now exceeds pre-pandemic levels.

But for now, even some white-collar jobs, especially accounting, are still facing an aging workforce. According to the International Institute of Certified Public Accountants, about three-quarters of accountants are “close to 60” and close to retirement.

The association’s executive vice president, Tom Hood, said the industry is finding it difficult to attract young college graduates. Many of them like data science and finance, but accounting suffers from a stuffy, outdated image.

“We’re being squeezed not only from the older part, but also from the younger part,” Hood said.

Nella Richardson, chief economist at payroll firm ADP, said studies show that countries with more spending-and-consuming retirees and fewer working people generally tend to have higher inflation. said that In these countries, demand for goods and services tends to exceed supply.

“This is the missing piece in our conversation about whether the Fed can bring inflation down to its 2% target,” Richardson said.

Some economists believe that the resilience of the job market, and the resulting fear that inflation will remain high, will lead the Fed to raise interest rates further, which will derail the economy and trigger a recession. He said he was worried that it could cause

Gower, who hails from Covington, Louisiana, near New Orleans, isn’t at all worried about a recession. His new job as a line mechanic at Commut Air will start at $30 an hour, plus higher pay for night shifts.

“We all have a great future ahead of us,” he said.

Brian Prentiss, a partner at consulting firm Oliver Wyman, predicts the airline industry could face a shortage of up to 18,000 mechanics this year. This represents approximately 12% of current staffing levels. This could lead to higher salary levels across the industry.

Mindy Pavlonis, deputy director of career services at the Institute of Aviation, said entry-level salaries have jumped from about $18 an hour in 2018 to high $20 an hour today.

Prentice said increasing financial aid for young people to receive training would help solve the labor shortage, and said some airlines were starting to offer this boon. Myers, a manager at Piedmont University, said his company now offers full-tuition scholarships to schools such as the Pittsburgh Aeronautical Institute. In return, students have to work in Piedmont for two years.

New students will also have a $6,500 toolbox, he added.

Eric Hansen, a lobbyist for the American Travel Association, said his organization will provide additional funding for federal development programs aimed at subsidizing aviation maintenance training schools and expanding support to high schools to promote the industry as a career. said he was looking for

He said further flight delays were inevitable without hiring more staff.

“We have a mechanical problem with the plane that needs to be fixed before it can turn,” Hansen said. “It will take some time for the mechanics to get to it.

https://www.mystateline.com/news/know-any-airplane-mechanics-wave-of-retirements-leaves-some-industries-desperate-to-hire/ Do You Know Airplane Mechanics? Retirement Waves Make Jobs Desperate In Some Industries

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