U.S. Manufacturing 'Has An Identity Crisis,' Expert Explains As Industry Job Growth Slows

Jan 12, 2022

Jobs growth in manufacturing slowed again in December, adding 26,000 new hires after a consensus estimate of 35,000, despite the overall pandemic-era unemployment rate being at 3.9%.

Since the pandemic began, manufacturing companies have brought back nearly 1.2 million jobs out of the 1.4 million jobs lost. In other words, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry employs 219,000 fewer people today than it did in February 2020.

Exacerbating the problem going forward, the industry is evolving rapidly and skilled workers are increasingly scarce.

"Manufacturing has an identity crisis," Paul Wellener, Vice Chairman, US Industrial Products & Construction Leader at Deloitte LLP, told Yahoo Finance (video above). "It's not your father or mother's dirty, dark and dangerous manufacturing anymore. It's really a high tech world out there with no jobs getting less technical."

Consequently, Wellener explained, the manufacturing industry "really does have some challenges as it relates to employment and workers. The jobs are there, but the question is: Where are the people?"

'An opportunity for manufacturers'

Overall, with a record 4.5 million Americans voluntarily leaving their jobs in November and vacancies totaling to 10.562 million in the U.S., suggesting a lingering struggle for employers across industries to retain talent and find new workers.

At the same time, a skyrocketing demand for goods in 2021 caused ongoing supply chain disruptions and put even more pressure on manufacturers to find labor. 

"The challenge for manufacturers I believe is to really make manufacturing attractive to the next generation to diverse populations that may not know about manufacturing as an opportunity," Wellener said adding that the situation is actually "an opportunity for manufacturers to continue to sell their business to the employee population out there."

Read the full article from Yahoo! Finance here

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