It is, but nobody seems to know it.
I have a kind neighbor that often asks me how work is going? I tell him that it’s going great! He just looks at me with surprise. You see, he gets his information from the TV or local paper and as far as he can tell, the sky is still falling.
Our industry is suffering from a real image problem. The public perception of American manufacturing is wrong. You’ve heard it: “We don’t make anything here.”, “We can’t compete with China.”, “Those jobs are lost forever.”... waah, waah, waah!
But it’s not true! We are capable and we are ready! More than that, we are actually doing it! The numbers are telling the real story but few know the numbers. Consider this: while it’s true that the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. has been declining for the last 40 years, manufacturing output has increased steadily during that same time frame. It is actually up 70% since 1977!
The reason for this is the U.S. manufacturing businesses have learned to do more with less. Productivity is at an all-time peak. Did you know that 184 workers can do today what it took 1,000 workers to do in 1960? That means that our small fabrication company would have to have been 100 workers strong to turn out the same amount of work that we do today. Wow!
For sure, global competition is tough. But the U.S. manufactured more goods in 2009 than the Japanese, Germans, British and Italians combined. We have the world’s mightiest manufacturing economy producing 21% of all global goods.
There is a new word that I have come to love. That word is “reshoring” - bringing manufacturing and good paying jobs back to the U.S. from overseas. The rising cost of oil, increasing Asian labor costs and other factors are making America a pretty attractive place to do business and companies are making the decision to build plants here at home, investing billions and employing thousands.
I encourage you to read the full report, “Made In America - A Case for U.S. Manufacturing”. You’ll discover even more reasons to change your perspective on the state of domestic manufacturing.
We still have a problem, though.
How do we change the perception of the many to the reality of today’s manufacturing industry? How do we convince the next generation of workers that modern manufacturing is not just hard labor in in a dirty, dark, smoke-filled factory but, instead, a highly skilled, highly technical, in-demand career that can provide a comfortable living and a profitable future?
How do we let them know that there are 2,000 jobs available in the Dayton area that we can’t get skilled workers for? How do we tell those who could bring work to our region that we are here and ready?
We must tell them!
Just like every product needs good marketing, so does our industry. If we don’t own this message, then someone else will. What will it take? Billboards, TV ads, a “Got Manufacturing” campaign?
What if you simply share this information with just five of your friends and ask them to do the same? What if you speak up when you hear someone talk about manufacturing as dead and gone? What if we banded together to spread the word using the power of modern media?
What if everyone knew that U.S. and Dayton-region manufacturing was really open for business?