The unemployment rate is the lowest since 1969. Capacity utilization remains below its average over the past 40 years. What does it all mean for your ability to compete today?

The pressure to meet higher demand with fewer resources is not just a headline, it’s a business reality. A struggle to get qualified workers, and the associated learning curve, can lead to quality issues that directly impact your business. 

The unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent in April, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor. This is the lowest level since 1969, with the official unemployment rate now being at or below 4 percent for more than a year. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 0.2 percentage point in March to 78.8 percent. This rate is 1.0 percentage point below its long-run (1972–2018) average.

Here is a closer look at how these scenarios are playing out for Ryerson customers. Roughly 56 percent of respondents to a Ryerson customer survey say that the sustained high rate of unemployment has hindered their ability to find skilled labor. In addition, capacity utilization is a top-five concern in 2019 for nearly a quarter of respondents. 


As business cycles expand and contract, partners that can help manage labor, capacity, and capital can help alleviate some of these concerns. That requires a close working relationship that helps your partner develop a comprehensive understanding of your business. Such a strategy can make all the difference in identifying new opportunities to reduce costs, improve cycle and production times, reduce waste.





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