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Mystifying Manufacturing Numbers: What Ought to We Make of Them?

Enterprise administration guru Tom Peters as soon as wrote, “In the event you’re not confused, you’re not paying consideration.” Nicely, American manufacturing leaders are listening to the more and more advanced circumstances they face—and they’re fairly confused. The newest knowledge on manufacturing are mystifying of their extremes. The place is the gentle on the finish of the tunnel? Following are a number of numbers that assist spotlight the present state of U.S. manufacturing.

44.2. The median age of producer employee within the U.S. right now. Whereas that’s comfortably throughout the vary of different sectors—the median age of staff in retail is 37.7 years whereas the median age of truckers is 46.4–the quantity continues to extend. In accordance to SHRM, the median age of producing staff in 2000 was 40.5. That is a part of the problem we face: with 2.5 million Boomers making ready to drop out of the manufacturing workforce within the coming years, the necessity for brand spanking new expertise turns into extra urgent.

100.9. The present degree of manufacturing manufacturing on the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s industrial manufacturing index (2017 = 100).  Curiously, the collapse of producing through the Nice Recession was so dramatic that output on this nation has but to succeed in the pre-recession index degree of 106.5, reached in December 2007. The index climbed to 99 in February 2020, solely to observe that Sisyphean boulder tumble again down the hill when the pandemic struck. Regardless of extraordinary demand, present provide chain disruptions and expertise shortages will doubtless maintain manufacturing output underneath its pre-recession degree by means of the remaining of 2022.

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308,000. The variety of manufacturing staff who left their corporations in December 2021 alone (whether or not attributable to retirement or as a part of the Nice Reshuffling). Whereas that quantity was offset by 433,000 hires in December, the so-called month-to-month “give up charge” was above-average all through 2021—together with 294,000 departures in November, 298,000 in October, and 324,000 in September. This compares to a quantity hovering between 200,000 and 225,000 within the three years previous to the pandemic.  Together with different knowledge (see beneath), it reveals how expertise retention has grow to be as a lot of an issue as expertise recruitment.

856,000. The variety of manufacturing job openings in December 2021. This has been the most important basic problem going through producers over the previous 15 years. But, comparatively talking, the 6.4% charge in openings is middle-of-the-pack for a pandemic-stricken economic system. The job open charge is 6.8% for your complete personal sector—and 9.9% for leisure and hospitality.

3,020,000. The variety of industrial robots worldwide in 2020, which is double the quantity from 2014. That is clearly associated to the earlier knowledge factors, as companies begin turning to robotic automation for some roles traditionally relegated to people. This is most quickly occurring in nations with ageing workforces: South Korea has the most “robot-dense” nation on this planet, with 932 per 10,000 staff in 2020. That’s adopted by Singapore (605 per 10,000 staff), Japan (390), Germany (371), Sweden (289), Hong Kong (275) and the United States (255). Regardless that China has the best general variety of industrial robots, it has solely 246 robots per 10,000 staff.

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12,559,000. The variety of manufacturing staff within the U.S. as of January 2022, in accordance to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 8.4% of complete U.S. employment. Right here’s the issue:  the federal government’s definition of producing is fairly slender as a result of knowledge is collected not on the agency degree, however on the institution degree—which in manufacturing means on the plant. This implies manufacturing staff not employed at a plant are counted elsewhere. For instance, staff at company places of work are labeled as “administration of a enterprise enterprise” (a service trade). R&D facilities are additionally counted as a service. Warehouses for wholesale commerce and centralized logistics for transportation are additionally counted individually. Clearly, manufacturing’s workforce footprint is way bigger than that recommended by the information.

79,400,000. The variety of international car gross sales final 12 months, based on IHS Markit. This was 3% increased than gross sales in 2020, however attributable to persevering with provide chain disruptions—significantly with semiconductor chips—a stable 13% underneath 2019 gross sales and 18% beneath 2018 gross sales. That is an instance of how the present provide chain disaster has taken a toll on the sector and stymied the sector’s re-emergence from the pandemic. The United States had 15.07 million car gross sales final 12 months, which equally was about 3% increased year-over-year, however equally nicely beneath pre-pandemic ranges. The provide chain problem and chip scarcity are anticipated to stay a vital problem for producers by means of 2022.

The problems addressed in these knowledge factors can really feel overwhelming for manufacturing leaders. In some ways, it feels just like the challenges they anticipated have accelerated and are all urgent in on the identical time. Firms proceed to showcase resilience and creativity to unravel points from provide chain to expertise to proceed their massive contribution to the U.S. financial worth chain. 

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Stephen Gold is president and CEO, Producers Alliance.


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