Even more incredible, Lovelace said some applicants have told him they'd rather stay unemployed instead of taking a job starting at $10.00 -to- $12.00 an hour. (Read More:
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"We have actually had people who we have hired for jobs. We have had them sit in front of us, set to start the next day, and then they call in and say, "I'm not gonna take that job, they just extended unemployment benefits,'" said a frustrated Lovelace. "At that point we've called the state of Indiana and turned 'em in. But yeah, we've had people say, 'I'm not taking that job.'"
At Aphelion Precision Technologies outside Chicago, Bill Black has jobs starting at $12.00 an hour he's been unable to fill for years.
"I ran an ad and I said, 'No experience necessary, apprentices willing to hire, willing to train.' No one showed up. Not a single applicant," said Black, whose parents founded Aphelion in 1981.
With the unemployment rate still around 8 percent and with the number of manufacturing job openings rising, you'd think finding applicants would be easy. Black says nothing could be further from the truth. (Read More:
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"In the blink of an eye, I'd hire [10 to 15 people] right now. That's the reality," said Black.
With more American manufacturers moving their plants to three shifts, the lack of applicants and inability to fill jobs is weighing on companies. At Metal Technologies there are work stations that sit empty because the company has openings.
"Even though you pay shift premiums and things like that to entice them to work those off-shifts, it's double hard to get them to work that," explained Conrad. (Read More: Fiscal Cliff, Complete Coverage)
When Aphelion could not staff an overnight shift it joined a growing list of companies turning to lights out manufacturing. It now programs a machine to build parts overnight when no one is on the shop floor.
"I'm still running (want) ads," said Black. "Unfortunately, not many are showing up, but I'm still looking to hire."
(Read More: Ready to Retire? What to Do Before You Tell Your Boss)
—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau; Follow him on Twitter