You may have taken it for granted, but there was one big benefit the recession wrapped up and placed under the water cooler: employee loyalty.

When no one was hiring, no one was applying for new jobs. And you didn’t have to worry about your superstar hourly workers flying the coop to the chicken joint across the street for an extra buck an hour.

Oh, how the competitive landscape has changed.

With the economy coming back, it’s time to play defense with your workforce. The best defensive strategy includes ensuring your pay, benefits and culture are competitive, ramping up hiring and knowing who you’re up against.

Here is a look at the top three hourly industries looking to woo your crew in 2011. Study them well and prepare for battle.

3. Satellite and cable jobs

Jobs include: Customer service and call center associates, installers, field services reps, warehouse workers and drivers
Reason for growth: Not only did the digital TV transition send your rabbit ears six feet under, but it also stirred up competition among TV, phone and internet providers. Telecommunications companies are growing their offerings, service areas and marketing as they launch into high-growth mode.
Why you should be worried: Did you know that all DirecTV employees receive complimentary service – and that their friends and family can get hugely discounted packages? Also, many technicians and installers who either work directly for telecommunications companies or their contractors get the independence of the open road and plenty of fresh air. You can’t beat a job where every lunch break is a picnic, literally.

2. Manufacturing jobs

Jobs include: Assemblers, operators, inspectors, technicians and attendants
Reason for growth: From auto plants to mills and factories strewn about the rust belt and westward, manufacturing jobs grabbed a great deal of negative ink the past few years. But the rebound has arrived. With Detroit shoring up and the economic uptick expected to spur spending, America’s assembly lines are picking up speed. Projections call for 330,000 new manufacturing jobs to be added in 2011, a spike of 2.5 percent. That growth could continue through 2015. That’s a lot of hard hats.
Why you should be worried: Manufacturing jobs are considered stable, high-paying and highly sought-after gigs. Many blue-collar factory jobs pay more than their white collar counterparts. Plus, there is often shift flexibility and paid overtime.

1. Healthcare jobs

Jobs include: Medical assistants, medical secretaries / administrative assistants and home health aides
Reason for growth: Not only are people living longer, but the new healthcare laws will increase the number of insured Americans by about 30 million people. Both of these factors will increase the demand for medical care and services.
Why you should be worried: Medical assistant make about $14/hour, which is an attractive hourly wage. Now multiple that paycheck by 35,000, which is the number of new assistant openings expected per year going forward. Also, the medical field offers a clear road map for career growth and gives folks the altruistic reward of helping those in need.