As industries have petered out of the U.S. and stores have stocked shelves with imports, Americans may have the perception that our country no longer considers manufacturing a prime industry. The long downward slope in employment for manufacturing would seem to support that idea. Since 1979 to date, the number of workers in manufacturing has declined approximately 40 percent.
What that number doesn’t reveal is that the United States still reigns as a power in manufacturing. While the cost of labor is higher in the U.S. than in Asia, manufacturers in America have accommodated this competitive issue by specializing in higher-value items. According to the New York Times Business Daily, U.S. manufactured exports topped $1.07 trillion. Most of us never think in numbers that size.
As of 2012, for total exports, the United States ranks just behind China and just ahead of Germany. Machinery, chemicals and transportation equipment comprise more than half of exports. While cheaper computers are produced in Asia, exportation of computers and electronic products by the U.S. is also growing.
As long as global economies remain healthy and trade barriers lowered, exporting manufactured goods should stay strong—good for American manufacturing.
Job growth in manufacturing sector
While the growth in manufacturing jobs has yet to catch up to the pre-recession level, The Times’ reports that since the low of February 2010, “the economy has added 2.4 million jobs through November 2011, of which 302,000 were in manufacturing.” Therefore, thanks in great part to manufacturing, the economy is improving.
Supporting this trend, the Institute of Supply Management survey indicates that more companies are planning to hire. The stock market gain on Friday, end of the first quarter, also confirms the brighter outlook for job-seekers.
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