What’s the Deal With American Manufacturing?

American manufacturing is kind of like a contestant on one of those reality competition shows on television. Some people are convinced that it is failing, others know wholeheartedly that it will succeed. It’s surrounded in nonstop drama, but people tune in every week to see whether or not it’s edging closer to triumph or collapse.

So how is American manufacturing doing? Is it on the homestretch for a big cash prize, or is it going home early? According to an article from the Christian Science Monitor, American manufacturing is doing just fine.

Is American manufacturing booming or bombing?

You get different answers depending on who you ask. Some say that American manufacturing is tanking. They look at the decline in manufacturing jobs as evidence of a struggling sector. Others aren’t convinced, however, viewing the decrease in jobs as a change in the industry. Automation, for example leads to fewer jobs for workers but improves manufacturing.

The Christian Science Monitor article says that manufacturing in the U.S. is at an all-time high. U.S. manufacturing was worth $2.17 trillion last year. This value has increased $1 trillion over the last 6 years, which shows obvious growth. There are a third fewer manufacturing jobs in the United States today than there were four decades ago; however, this isn’t as ominous as many believe.

In the past, the number of human workers was a good way to measure how an industry was performing. Today, automation is replacing human workers. The number of human workers is no longer an accurate way to determine whether an industry is sinking or swimming.

The article goes on to say that one of the biggest issues for manufacturers is finding skilled workers. The low-skill jobs that are easy to automate are being automated, but there is a skills gap. Skilled laborers are retiring and the upcoming generation isn’t interested in manufacturing jobs. There are not enough trained workers to fill high-skill job positions.

American manufacturing is in a good place. Fewer jobs doesn’t signal a struggling sector. However, if U.S. manufacturing wants to keep up with the rest of the world, we will have to address the skills gap.