Food Manufacturing Employment Numbers Make February Increases

by Quentin Blount
Photo by Sina Schuldt/picture alliance via Getty Images

The manufacturing jobs market is heating back up again in February after seeing some slight growth in both December and January. More specifically, it’s the food manufacturing employment numbers that have seen a dramatic increase.

What You Need To Know

  • Employment at food manufacturing facilities increased by 7,200 to 1.671 million workers in February
  • Food manufacturing continues to slowly recover from the troubles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and labor shortage
  • Companies are focusing their workforce on key growth areas to try and meet high consumer demand for food and beverage product

COVID-19 Pandemic Caused Labor Shortages in the Industry

It’s no secret that over the past two years, food companies around the world have been facing labor shortages thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only that, but workers have also been demanding better conditions to work in.

As a result, the food manufacturing industry responded and it looks like it’s already paying off. Businesses are offering higher pay, bonuses, training, more flexible hours, and better health insurance. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment at food manufacturing facilities increased by 7,200 to 1.671 million workers in February. That makes it three months straight of employment gains in the sector.

However, even though there were nearly 8,000 food manufacturing jobs added in the month of February, the industry still has 132,000 job openings.

Geoff Freeman is the president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association. Before that, it was called the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Freeman also previously served as the president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. He believes that the workforce needs to keep growing throughout the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) supply chain. That goes especially so when it comes to trucking.

“If we want continued job gains, there must be a strategy to get more Americans into the labor pool,” he said. “The unemployment rate obscures the millions of Americans sitting on the sidelines of the workforce — many of whom CPG companies would like to see join their ranks.”

Companies Are Being Strategic As Food Manufacturing Employment Increases

The numbers show that food companies are ramping up their hiring. And by all means, that is a very good thing. But at the same time, they have to be strategic about where they are focusing their workforce. Even if that means they have to lay off some workers in a particular area that isn’t performing well so they can dedicate more to a key growth area.

That’s exactly what took place at a Tyson poultry plant in Kentucky. They announced that they were laying off 200 workers back in January so that they could hone in on a growth area of their own. They told Food Dive that they needed to refocus some of their labor due to a growing demand for their fully cooked, “value added” chicken.