“I’m never at full employment,” Mr. Lopez said.
To cope, the truck leasing, maintenance and logistics company has stepped up its efforts to develop its own talent pool, looking to recruit students right out of high school and service members finishing up military tours. It has also become partners with Women in Trucking, a trade association, to attract more women to the industry.
“Someone can start out pumping fuel and washing trucks and become a trained mechanic,” Mr. Lopez said.
The building trades have also ramped up their recruitment of women, which Jim Grossmann, director of construction operations at Suffolk Construction, described as “an untapped population.” His company employs 2,300 people.
Those at the lower end of the pay scale have benefited the most from employers’ scrimmage for workers. Still, pay increases seem far outpaced by complaints from employers about labor shortages. Average wage growth has kept its nose above the 3 percent mark, but the pace has not moved much in recent months, feeding concerns that wage growth has plateaued.
Some analysts expected much stronger government hiring as the Census Bureau gears up for its 2020 count. Only 2,000 workers have been hired so far this year even though preliminary canvassing is supposed to start in August. By comparison, the bureau had hired tens of thousands of temporary workers by the spring of 2009. New technology has significantly reduced the need for staff, according to the bureau.
The Political Implications
The number of jobs created this year has not matched the 223,000 monthly average in 2018, when steep tax cuts and government spending revved up the economy.
Still, the low unemployment rate has helped Mr. Trump make the case that the economy’s growth is one of his signature achievements, a boast that is expected to be a cornerstone of his 2020 re-election strategy.