Some claim manufacturing is dying, but the numbers tell a different story:
Posted by Bert Maes on September 17, 2009
“We have all been exposed to the current doom and gloom about the state of manufacturing in the United States. We see the stories in the media about manufacturers shutting down plants and eliminating thousands of jobs.
Young people today are seldom encouraged to look at manufacturing as a career choice.
Should we all just abandon manufacturing and become part of the service economy?”
YES, the number of people employed in manufacturing companies is declining.
YES, production hours are reduced.
BUT, productivity per worker increased tremendously due to continuous improvement, high-tech equipment and lean techniques.
AND, the wages in manufacturing are much higher than the service sector. (See also my charts). “This is why we keep talking about manufacturing jobs helping create the middle class in the United States“.
We are seeing higher skilled production operators now making higher-value products with much more capital-intensive equipment than in the past. The lower-value commodity consumer products are being sourced from low-cost countries.
Having higher-skilled manufacturing workers using continuous-improvement techniques to increase productivity and using more expensive (and more capable) capital equipment contributes to lower manufacturing employment but higher value-add per employee and higher sales for manufacturers.
This is not the story of the death of manufacturing, just one of change and continuous improvement.