Where are the manufacturing jobs?

Lots of happy news in the US media recently about manufacturing in The United States, some suggesting we are the cusp of resurgence, arguing building goods in China no longer makes sense , others suggesting that as the trade deficit is lowered somehow US Manufacturers are “gaining ground”.

However few addressed the real reason why manufacturing jobs are needed – to provide stable, middle class jobs. If there is a “resurgence” where are the jobs? The chart above shows two series – Manufacturing Hires (JTS3000HIL, black line, left axis) and Manufacturing and Trade Industries Sales (CMRMT, blue line, in real dollars, right axis), over the period January, 2000 to July, 2013 with each series captured monthly.

Manufacturing sales are most definitely increasing and have almost rebounded to 2007 levels. However manufacturing employment is moving in the other direction – down. How will it all end?

Not well I suspect. We most definitely are seeing some degree of manufacturing returning to The United States, however this driver of employment is being countered by the rise of robots, with unskilled labor jobs robots performing many unskilled jobs previously held by more expensive – and demanding – humans.

Economist had a great article on robots, particularly on how they are being adapted to work with rather than fully replace humans.

Regardless, any Robotic / Human interaction is subject to European Safety standards, specifically ISO 10218-2:2011, Robots and robotic devices — Safety requirements for industrial robots

Comments are closed.