Manufacturing job growth has accelerated for the third straight month, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Companies added 38,000 jobs in March.
This brings manufacturing jobs in the United States to just 1% lower than in February 2020, before the pandemic.
Jobs in manufacturing now make up about 8% of all jobs in the U.S., compared with 12% in 2003 and 26% in 1970. Percentages will probably never climb back to 20th century levels, because manufacturing nowadays uses more automation and fewer human factory workers.
Most production workers are still racking up a little bit of overtime, with average weekly hours at 41.7. The average hourly wage for production workers rose by 15 cents an hour, hitting $24.71.
Amazon unionization effects?
However, some observers are concerned that Amazon’s unionization could affect on manufacturing.
Amazon workers in New York City have voted to form a union. Some worry that this will put manufacturing in competition with Amazon’s warehouse jobs and that manufacturing won’t stack up.
Unions, which have historically been strongest in manufacturing, have grown weaker over the years. Warehouse and transportation jobs have grown during the pandemic as consumers turned to ecommerce. Amazon pays college tuition for workers and has relatively high wages compared to the service sector even before unionization.
A union at Amazon might even spur manufacturing workers to return to unions, adding pressure on manufacturing wages. Manufacturing is already facing a labor shortage.
On the other hand, a labor shortage and wage pressure might just lead to even more automation. New robot rental programs have some machines costing just $8.00 an hour — more than minimum wage, but significantly less than most manufacturers pay their human workers.
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