‘Nuff said -the truth about domestic manufacturing


Image courtesy of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Commerce Department’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

If you’re not familiar with NIST, I describe it as the SBA of manufacturing and I heart them a lot. Check them out!

HT: Molly H. on Facebook

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10 comments

  1. hannah says:

    While I support domestic manufacturing, I think it’s a little ridiculous and misleading to compare the annual average salary (which includes senior level) of a manufacturing worker to that of an entry level manufacturing engineer (little to no experience). All the same, this is intended to motivate people to go into this field, so I can kind of understand why the stretch was made.

  2. Claudette says:

    This is very interesting and eye opening. I am not in the manufacturing business, I make my living in the IT field, but sewing is my very passionate hobby. I personally wish that manufacturing would come back to this country and I try to buy products Made in the USA when ever I can. I think the statistics for income and benefits look appealing but when I try imagining what it would be like to be a business owner/work in that industry I get the image of a sweat shop with a dark cramped warehouse setting. I probably am not alone with what I imagine. If this is not the case there needs to be “pr” of how it really is so it might appeal to more people as a possible career choice to get a larger skilled work force. Just my random thoughts.

  3. Sarah_H. says:

    I have a dissenting view here. I think we have gotten exactly what we deserve. The people who actually make the products are hardly ever paid according to their abilities (by my personal experience, not from any reading or studies). I went from the garment business to the construction business for a short time in the early 80’s and found that the lowest paid construction workers made as much as the most experienced seamstress in the sample room.

    Whatever the magic formula is for paying manufacturing workers commiserate with the value of their work, we have not had it in years past and I do not know who does. One might point to Germany, but their factories are filled with immigrant workers who have no work available in their home countries.

    I heartily agree with the importance of manufacturing. I wish I could see the path to doing it right. I can only hope I am seeing with the eyes of the old, looking at yesterday rather than today. But until manufacturing is a good career for the guy on the floor as well as the production manager and the owner, we will not build a strong manufacturing base.

  4. Natasha E says:

    I’m a little suspicious since they have the same kind of posters and advertisements about the nursing shortage expect most new graduate nurses in the past few years have had a hard time getting a job some taking a year or more to get into an industry they were told was begging for people. I was fortunate to graduate just prior to this.

  5. Brenna says:

    Hannah, I don’t mean to be dense, but I don’t understand what part of this you find ridiculous. I also don’t get the stretch. Can you clarify those points for me?

  6. FrancesMC says:

    The poster talks about a shortage of skilled workers but says nothing about the skills required. I recently read about a millwright, who is certainly a skilled worker, being unable to find a job in his field for more than two years. Certainly, there has to be more to it than that but you wonder. On the other hand, my nephew is a millwright and his company seems to be busy.

  7. Olga says:

    In most states there is little to no industry because it has been shipped out of the U.S. in favor of cheap land, cheap materials, cheap “taxes”/other, etc., as well as cheap labor by the very manufacturers that complain of no skilled workers! People have no training offered them anymore to even hope for a manufacturing job, sine we have watched our factories leave America over the past 40+ years for cheaper costs and resulting in inferior products by yes: unskilled, off-shore, cheaply paid laborers!

    Reality check: bad government and greedy companies are deliberately abandoning us.

  8. Kathleen says:

    Frances:
    I can’t see how a poster could list desired skills of whatever positions -even of one industry.

    Location is critical; there will always be a mis-match between where people live vs where the jobs are. It’s true in our industry too. I can’t speak to current trends in economically motivated migration but when I was coming up, it was a given that one would probably have to move to pursue optimal employment opportunities. Alternatively, one has the option of creating their own job. It is how I came to own a business; I wasn’t willing to move to NY. Considering all that happened in the interim, it was fortuitous I did not.

    Olga: I understand your dismay but how is your comment helpful? I know in my own experience that I’ve heard people complain everything is made offshore but when I say I produce domestically, I’ve been sneered at with the word “sweatshop”. We can’t have it both ways. Many posts on this site have discussed the complexity of the problem. The root of the difficulty (in my opinion) is that few parents and young people these days aspire to a career in manufacturing and as such, don’t prepare themselves for the work. Employers will train new hires for their unique requirements but an applicant has to bring commitment -as demonstrated by learning minimal competencies- to the table.

    Sarah: I understand what you’re saying but follow the work to product, to consumer and their estimation of value. In the middle there are customers (manufacturers) who want to pay as little as possible because their customers also want the lowest price possible. The value of a house vs the value of a wardrobe doesn’t compare so I wouldn’t imagine the pay would either (much to my dismay of course) The first good increases in value (usually) while the latter depreciates particularly because it is so trend driven. We’re talking about the difference between developed real estate vs soft or non-durable goods.

    I recently hired a part time assistant (my ex-boss in fact). She has some skills but it’s been awhile since she’s done the work (since 1996) and she hasn’t kept up with required skill changes needed by today’s industry. I’m doing a lot of training with her and it is costing me dearly. I’m paying her $15 an hour to learn but I’m also losing productivity myself in that I can’t keep on top of all the work I had been doing; meaning, less money coming in at the same time I have higher expenses. Hopefully it will pay off. I only know I couldn’t afford to train someone who had no skills at all because I wouldn’t be able to sustain the losses.

    Speaking of paying off -and going back to a customer’s expectations, I recently fired a customer over her incessant complaints over costs. When she told my contractor she could get it done in China for so much less -that was the last straw. Other than that I don’t know anyone who charges less than I do, a company in China is not going to produce 10 units each of fifty pattern piece coats with a match stripe at any price. She aspired to sell her coats for $800 apiece… could she get that? I don’t know. I only know I didn’t care to stick around to find out.

    Manufacturers have a tough job these days. Very few can produce commodities domestically so they’ll have to focus on higher value products and market that value to consumers effectively to induce sufficient sales to sustain their operations.

  9. Ivan says:

    I’m actually attending community college for machining after two years of state college pursuing an art degree. I’m enjoying it and believe the job prospects are good, and since i don’t have dependents or a spouse moving for work in a different state is not a big issue. There’s definitely a lack of prestige in manufacturing and most of the people I went to high school with were planning to go to college for desk jobs. I think when everyone pushes college there is also a lack of awareness about manufacturing fields. Maybe when Chinese citizens grow powerful enough to stop the unregulated pollution and low pay of laborers western countries will have more incentive to manufacture again.

    I enjoy reading your articles btw; I’m just a student doing some minimal clothing sewing at times.

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