What is the State of the Manufacturing Economy?

By Miles Free of PMPA. This post originally appears on pmpaspeakingofprecision.com and is reposted with permission. Today our growth is limited by our inability to acquire skilled workers. In the last recession, we were held back by lack of demand for our customer’s end products. Today, we cannot find the skilled people that we require to operate new high tech equipment that is needed to make the high precision parts we produce.  Our shops are tackling this issue in a number of ways. Some are setting up internal training programs, some apprenticeships.  Several of our member companies are creating on-site schools to teach skills needed. As an industry we helped to create, and are supporting initiatives like Right Skills Now. Right Skills Now uses National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) credentials to create the skilled workforce that manufacturers require to remain competitive in today’s global markets. Claim: The President had this to say about employment and manufacturing: “More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ’90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters. We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.” Response: We haven’t won this one yet. “…there has been a gain of 878,000 jobs since February 2010. But Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the number of manufacturing jobs is still 230,000 fewer than…in the depths of the recession — and 1.4 million fewer than when the recession began in December 2007. Indeed, the United States only gained 30,000 manufacturing jobs in…read more >

From MAGNET: New Research Supports toe Positive Effect of Co-locating Production and Innovation

This post originally appeared on MAGNET’s  Manufacturing Success blog and is reposted with permission. New Research Supports the Positive Effect of Co-locating Production and Innovation The preliminary results of a new research report on innovation in manufacturing caught our eye here at MAGNET recently. In 2010, MIT’s President, Susan Hockfield, launched the MIT Production in the Innovation Economy (PiE) research group  to answer the question: “What kinds of production do we need–and where do production facilities need to be located–to sustain an innovative economy?” The PiE group also worked to answer these questions: “How do production capabilities here and abroad contribute to sustaining innovation and realizing its benefits within our own society?” “How did this new global economy of fragmented research, development, production and distribution come into being? And what does this mean for the future of the U.S. economy?” The group analyzed these questions in relationship to large U.S. corporations, start-ups companies that had achieved commercialization, and small- and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers (referred to as “Main Street Manufacturers”). In late February, the group released its thought-provoking preliminary report (the final report will be published in the fall). The report’s conclusion: “What’s held manufacturing in the United States…was the advantage firms gain from proximity to innovation and proximity to users. Even in a world linked by big data and instant messaging, the gains from co-location have not disappeared.” Since the U.S. share of the world market has declined from 34 percent in 1998 to 28 percent in 2010, the PiE group identifies a key danger point to be the declining weight of the U.S. in the global economy, even though the output of U.S. high-tech manufacturing is still the largest in the world. The group also reports it’s fear that “the loss of companies that can make things will end up in the loss…read more >