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Manufacturing survey shows lower turnover rate than national average, lack of skilled applicants

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY —  A recent survey conducted in conjunction with the Rowan Economic Development commission and the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance shows a lower employee turnover rate in the area than the national average, but a lack of qualified applicants as the biggest hiring challenge.

From July to September 2019, 106 manufacturers were surveyed in an effort to gauge the state of the manufacturing labor market in the Charlotte region. The survey looked at wage rates, turnover, hiring and training challenges. The survey also highlights whether companies are interested in using career-ready certifications, developing apprenticeship programs and whether companies offer internships.

In total, the 106 manufacturers surveyed employ a total of 18,193 people, which represents 15% of the total manufacturing labor force in the region.

The survey was distributed to more than 200 manufacturers in Rowan County, which provided the most responses of any county in the Charlotte metro region, according to the Rowan County Economic Development Commission.

“Overall, our goal is to help our local manufacturing businesses have current and up-to-date information about the labor market in order to help make them more competitive,” Economic Development Commission President Rod Crider said.

According to Crider, the results will allow companies to compare wages in Rowan County and across the Charlotte metro region. The survey provides businesses with more information for the hiring process, which makes them more competitive and potentially lead to higher wages.

Hiring, retaining and training talent

The turnover rates from respondent companies was 17.7% annually, which is slightly below the national average of 26% reported by ADP.

Like wages, turnover rates vary by industry. Textiles industry saw the biggest turnover rate at 55%, but there was only a 3% turnover rate in computer and electronics products.

The most common reason for turnover was attendance problems. The next most common reason was employer dissatisfaction and other policy violations.

Additionally, the survey showed that an insufficient pool of qualified candidates in the area pose the most common hiring challenge for the respondent companies. Other common challenges include a lack of skills/certifications and a lack of soft skills.

Further, respondent companies cited front-line supervisory training as the greatest training need.

Most respondents, at slightly more than 60%, reported requiring at least a high school education, while no respondent reported requiring a four-year degree or higher for the manufacturing positions. Nearly 20% of respondent companies required less than a high school education. According to the survey, the tight talent market has led to some companies seeking alternative training methods such as apprenticeships, custom training and internships.


Survey results show that nearly 65% of respondent companies operated more than one shift, and 71% of the companies offer some form of shift premium for a second or third shift. Shift premiums are offered to employees who work less desirable hours such as weekends, holidays and split shifts.


Most respondent companies, at 88%, offer 401k options that include a variety of matching policies. Almost all companies, at 91%, require employees to work at least 30 hours per week to qualify for benefits, while only 28% require working 40 hours or more.

More than half of the respondents offer some paid time off to benefits-eligible employees, which includes general paid time off, vacation and sick days. All but one respondent offered some paid holidays. 45% of respondent companies reported that they offered seven-to-nine paid holidays, and 38% of respondents offer 10 or more paid holidays.

About 44% of companies offer some sort of employee referral bonus, with amounts ranging from $50 to $3,000, depending on the job title and industry. Only 30% of respondents offered time of service bonuses.

Average wages

The average wages among the respondent companies vary by production job title, industry and length of service, and hourly pay is more common that salary pay. A total of 77% of respondents reported that more than 90% of their workforce is full-time and permanent.

Some production occupations that received the highest average wage includes MFG engineers, operations managers, quality assurance, buyer/purchasing agents and warehouse managers. Starting wages for production jobs ranged from $13 for jobs such as forklift operators, and $37 for operations managers. Front office/administrative average wages were highest among controllers and engineer managers.

Giving back

The survey shows that more than half of respondent companies give back to the community, with employee volunteering opportunities and school sponsorships ranking among the most common opportunities offered by the companies.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.



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