Manufacturers nationwide focusing on jobs, skilled workers

With January's job numbers to be released soon by the Labor Department, economist are expecting to see the economy improve by the unemployment rate dropping again. Presently, the jobless rate in the United States is 5.6 percent, an eight-year low.

However, there are a number of employment sectors that are still in need of qualified workers. This is especially the case for the manufacturing industry, as many parts of the country are in the midst of recruitment efforts.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, for example - where manufacturing is a major contributor to the region's economy - approximately five dozen companies recently participated in a job fair to shore up their manufacturing divisions.

Major conglomerates like General Electric, Ford Motor Co., GKN Aerospace and AK Steel were all part of the Manufacturing Job Fair held at the Southwest Ohio Regional Aerospace on Jan. 29, the Cincinnati Business Courier reported. Some of the positions available paid a yearly salary of $95,000. In 2013, the average manufacturing employee's salary was around $77,500, including benefits, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

Recruitment may help lower the unemployment rate of Ohio's third-largest city even more. In December, the jobless rate in Cincinnati dropped to 4.1 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, manufacturers would probably like to take part in a job fair in order to find workers with the right skills for the jobs that are opening up.

To help, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has teamed up with manufacturing companies in the region in order to find employees who are looking for work, thereby avoiding the operational challenges stemming from labor shortages.

Fischer, who also serves as president of the Jefferson Community and Technical College said that the initiative will train workers for "jobs that didn't exist five years ago."

"Manufacturing is on a super-rebound in this country," said Fischer recently when the jobs program was announced. "We kind of learned some mistakes of the off-shoring that started taking place 10 or 20 years ago, now we're re-shoring."

He added that ensuring Kentucky has a pool of reliable, highly skilled manufacturing workers is crucial for the state to compete in an ever increasingly global economy.

New York City lost 32,300 jobs in five-year period
The jobs situation for manufacturing isn't the same everywhere you look, however, particularly in densely populated metropolitan areas. In New York City, for instance, the region lost more 1,000 manufacturing businesses and 32,300 jobs between 2007 and 2012, according to U.S. Census Bureau data compiled by local news outlet AM New York.

Ian Fried, spokesperson for the Economic Development Corporation, noted that this shouldn't suggest the sector is in a state of decline.

"The city is committed to supporting the manufacturing industry, which is a source of thousands of quality jobs across all five boroughs," Fried told AM New York. "Our workforce development programs and infrastructure investments are designed to support both current and future manufacturers, ensuring they have the opportunity to remain in New York City."

Experts within the manufacturing say that the sector is in a period of transition, pointing out that while many jobs have come back - 800,000 new jobs since 2010, as referenced by President Barack Obama during the State of the Union - it's too early to say that manufacturing is back.

Adams Nager, economic research assistant with the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, recently said that the best way to fully restore manufacturing's economic success is through re-shoring and more investment in research and development at the domestic level.

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