One Third of Potential Hires Fail/Refuse Drug Test

Member Group : PA Manufacturers' Assn.


HARRISBURG, PA, June 11, 2014 — One-third of all applicants are ineligible for good-paying jobs in Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector due to drug use or drug test avoidance, according to a new study commissioned by the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association and conducted by Tel Opinion Research. The survey of 200 manufacturing business executives focused on their companies’ experience with drug testing and its impact on their workforce. The results indicate drug use by both potential and current workers is a legitimate concern facing the manufacturing sector in Pennsylvania.

The executives reported that 19 percent of job applicants either refused to take a drug test or did not show up for a drug test that was required as a condition of employment. The fact that almost one in five potential employees does not complete the required pre-employment drug test underscores the difficulty many employers face in finding reliable and dependable workers. When combined with the shortage of skilled workers, employers often report that finding qualified workers remains a struggle; this is just another reason that over 8,000 Pennsylvania manufacturing jobs remain unfilled.

Additionally, the manufacturing business executives reported that 16% of potential employees who take a drug test fail to pass, thus making them ineligible for employment.

When combining the figures of 19 percent that refuse to take the test and the 16 percent that fail, a total just shy of one in three employees are unable to work because of this problem. Of the 81 test takers, 13 would fail.

Finally, the survey indicated that 60% of the businesses polled did in fact use random drug screenings as a condition of employment. The number increased to 70% among companies with over 50 employees. This illustrates the desire of many businesses to maintain a responsible and drug free workforce for the safety of all employees.

Positive trends do indicate that fewer employees are lost due to random screenings once employed than are lost in the hiring process. This may be in part due to employees’ knowledge that random drug screenings are a condition of their employment.

Just one year ago, a crane operator acting under the influence of drugs caused the collapse of a building that killed six people. Businesses cannot and will not risk the safety of their employees, which is why the practice of drug screening is becoming more prevalent. With a majority of manufacturing employers using drug tests, this survey contains two serious findings about the impact of drug use on manufacturing businesses’ ability to maintain an adequate and reliable workforce: the rate of new-hire drug testing avoidance AND failure.

Viewed together, the refusal of 19% of potential employees to take the required drug test combined with the 16% who test positive for drug use means one-third of all applicants are disqualified from good-paying careers in Pennsylvania manufacturing.

NOTE: this study solely represents the manufacturing sector of Pennsylvania; no other industry type was surveyed. The full executive summary of this survey can be found here.

About the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association
Founded in 1909 by Bucks County industrialist Joseph Grundy, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association is the nonprofit, statewide trade organization representing the manufacturing sector in Pennsylvania’s public policy process. Headquartered near the state Capitol in Harrisburg, PMA works to improve Pennsylvania’s ability to compete with other states for investment, jobs, and economic growth. To learn more about the association and its work, visit

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