Chad Selweski| Macomb Daily

Thousands of good-paying jobs remain available across Macomb County as the area rebounds dramatically from the 2008-10 economic downturn.

According to a new economic report, employers in the county placed more than 11,000 online job postings in the third quarter of this year, with many of those ads seeking workers in fields such as software developers, engineers, IT specialists and registered nurses.

“There are a number of engineering and IT jobs that pay very well – in some cases those jobs are in abundance,” said John Bierbusse, director of the Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works unemployment agency.

“The demand is quite strong. We’re having a hard time filling those positions.”

For those with the proper skills, the average wages paid are significant: $43.18 an hour for mechanical engineers; $34.68 hourly for software developers; $30.94 for computer programmers; and $33.62 for registered nurses.

At the same time, the traditional skilled trades fields that have received so much promotion from county officials and Gov. Rick Snyder offer solid paychecks for workers without a college degree. In factories that engage in advanced manufacturing, hourly wages of $18 to $28 are advertised for machinists, welders, tool and die makers, production technicians and CNC machine operators.

According to the report, compiled by the Workforce Intelligence Network, or WIN, “the pace of adding new skilled trades jobs has consistently grown over the last five years.”

Macomb County has gained 21,000 jobs since the final months of the Great Recession in 2010 and the county posted a 4,300-job advance in the third quarter – June through September.

But the WIN study, which looked at all nine southeast Michigan counties, also presents a mixed bag as the top job opening category in Macomb County pertains to retail sales. Food preparation workers at restaurants, housekeeping and maintenance workers at hotels and cashiers at stores are also in high demand.

Many of those positions pay between $9 and $11 an hour with little room for advancement. In comparison, physical therapists who reach the top tier of their field can see their wages jump to more than $63 an hour. Electrical engineers, an occupation in high demand, can rise to $66 hourly.

Bierbusse said the “churn” in the labor market is especially heavy in the retail and food service industries as workers switch jobs or move to a new residence. As a result, job postings are a constant.

A career ladder is available, Bierbusse added, for those with limited education if they pursue post-high school training, whether at a community college or on-the-job programs.

“You need to be continuously ‘skilling’ yourself,” he said.

Economists who study labor trends say that more quitting and hiring means that the job market is becoming more dynamic, which creates additional opportunities for the unemployed.

Greater quitting is a good sign for several reasons: People are more likely to leave jobs when they have a new position lined up, usually one that is higher-paying. Workers also quit when they are more confident they can find a new job. And quits open more positions that can be filled by those out of work, or by people seeking higher pay.

Last month, a nonprofit group known as Change the Equation ranked the Detroit area third in the nation in advanced manufacturing jobs and third in engineering growth. Change the Equation labeled Metro Detroit a “Cinderella story,” in large part due to the turnaround of the auto industry, and said the area gained 15,000 engineers in the past five years.

Meanwhile, U.S. companies ramped up hiring in September, as the more than 5 million hired in September marked the most since December 2007, before the recession began, according to Labor Department figures released last week.

For more information on job openings, contact Michigan Works at (586) 469-5220.

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