Manufacturing in the U.S.: Better than Many Think
The U.S. manufacturing sector has recovered from the recession and can expect up to 150,000 job openings each year for the next decade.
That was one of the conclusions set out in a recently-released paper from the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
Report co-author and Ball State economics professor Michael Hicks said the report addressesthe myth that U.S. manufacturing strength has declined over the last several decades. Since the end of the 2009 recession, Hicks, noted, the economy has added 750,000 manufacturing jobs.
“There are major misunderstandings among the public and the media about the manufacturing sector,” said Hicks. “The U.S. manufacturing base is not in decline, and we have recovered from the recession. Nor are jobs being outsourced because American manufacturing can’t compete internationally.”
The report, entitled The Myth and the Reality of Manufacturing in America, found manufacturing to be a resilient and growing sector of the U.S. economy and that production remains robust. The Great Recession completely lost its stranglehold by 2014, when U.S. manufacturers attained record levels of production.
One of the most important changes in the past decade has been the 87-percent increase in worker productivity, which has resulted in changes in the employment levels and in the skills needed to succeed.
“Sustainable manufacturing employment growth requires high levels of human capital with the appropriate educational skills,” said Steven Dwyer, president and CEO of Conexus Indiana, that state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative.
The report advocated human capital interventions beginning at the pre-K level, and continuing through secondary and higher education, that focus acquiring the mathematical and cognitive skills required of today’s advanced manufacturing workforce.
Among the study’s other conclusions:
• 87 percent of manufacturing job losses are due to productivity gains, including better supply chains, more capital investment, and advanced technology.
• Only four percent of manufacturing jobs have been lost to outsourcing since 2000.
Overall, the report concluded that “manufacturing production remains robust. Productivity growth is the largest contributor to job displacement over the past several decades.”