Manufacturing jobs are on the rise in the U.S. after a low point in our country’s economic history. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma increased demand for materials and equipment due to heavy rebuilding efforts. Manufacturers are also seeing a rise in demand from foreign clients, which indicates the future of the American manufacturing industry may rely on export sales as well.
Manufacturing growth and security
American producers are finding more stability since rebuilding efforts after this year’s tropical storms. Since September 2017, capital equipment orders rose by 12.4% and sales also increased 11.4% — its “best performance since 2014.” Such an improvement in production means backlogged job orders and orders running ahead of inventory and production. And because U.S. manufacturers are backlogged, they hired at least 74,000 new workers in the same three-month time frame. This influx could be only the beginning of more manufacturing job growth in the U.S.
Manufacturers are also continuing to increase their global trade efforts due to energy and other commodity prices rising steadily. Along with that increase, U.S. manufacturers added at least 156,000 workers since President Donald Trump’s election. The president’s spending plans and trade measures may create a favorable economic environment for U.S. exports to flourish. In the White House press release, Matt Levatich, Harley Davidson Inc. chief executive, credited the president’s administration with providing a much-needed focus on manufacturing and other skilled trades, which could positively affect the economic future of the United States.
According to a McKinsey report, American manufacturing GDP may reach to as much as $3 trillion by 2025, which would be a 20% increase. This may be because American producers have outperformed their global counterparts. However, several obstacles stand in the way of reaching such figures.
Revitalizing the industry
Many smaller manufacturing firms that supply larger producers do not see the same improvements in sales or production as their larger counterparts. This creates an unbalanced economy for the manufacturing industry and diminishes middle class opportunities. This problem could be resolved if larger producers were to improve their suppliers’ access to capital and technologies to bolster the industry. Also, these smaller manufacturing suppliers could benefit from supportive government programs, creating long-term stability.
Another obstacle for manufacturers is the shift from a focus on production to research and development, design, and services. Manufacturers need new business models that provide product wider ranges with more choices and customization options. They also need new marketing approaches to reach wider audiences. To achieve this, many manufacturing decision-makers need to adopt new technologies that allow process flexibility and improve their production speed.
According to the McKinsey report, less than 1% of U.S. firms sell their products globally. This creates an enormous opportunity for growth if U.S. manufacturers are compelled to compete with their foreign contenders. Doing so could create numerous manufacturing jobs and help the U.S. economy. To fully take advantage of this opportunity, U.S. manufacturers need to coordinate large-scale action and investments such as a national apprenticeship program and increasing the sector’s capital base. U.S. manufacturers also hope the Trump administration will continue to provide favorable conditions for global trade, creating more sales and, ultimately, more jobs.
While manufacturing employment continues to rise and offer ample opportunity for growth, U.S. manufacturers continue to increase their domestic sales and anticipate future growth in exports. This increase could also be good news for job-seekers looking to enter the manufacturing field.