Predictions For a New Year of Manufacturing

Joe Weinlick
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In 2014, the American economy continued to rebound from the Great Recession started in 2007. U.S. manufacturing levels, thanks to increased demand, finally returned to near-normal levels. Gas prices dipped, American consumers had more spending money for the holiday season, and companies added more jobs. Can manufacturers continue this upward trend?

IndustryWeek attempts to predict what U.S. manufacturing trends may surface in 2015. For the United States, predictions for 2015 lean toward greater reliance on American goods, more hiring and more technology to make manufacturing processes more efficient.

The MAPI Foundation predicts the American economy will grow 2.8 percent in 2015, fueled by a 3.5 percent increase in manufacturing production. With lower gas prices, transport costs remain lower and prices go down. Extra profits for companies mean reinvestment in better products, more efficient technology and more hiring.

Employment may grow by as much as 2.1 percent at U.S. manufacturing firms in the coming year. If that prediction holds up, the hiring spree marks the largest increase in employees since 2011. More hiring means more consumer spending, and more consumer spending means more profits for manufacturers when consumers buy higher-ticket items.

With higher technology, some leaks in the system may happen. IndustryWeek believes more cyberattacks and data breaches will occur in 2015, so companies must be ready for hacks. U.S. manufacturing firms may not have to worry about this issue directly, but retail companies could suffer setbacks. More money will have to be spent to beef up security, which decreases revenue for retailers, but provides a stimulus for cyber-security outfits.

Business leaders must be proactive with Congress to ensure U.S. manufacturing does not take steps backwards. Now is the time to keep the gravy train moving forward before gas prices rise or another global crisis stunts growth.

Reshoring may be a buzz word in 2015. Technological advancements, such as additive manufacturing through 3-D printing, have reduced costs for U.S. manufacturers. One of the great predictions for 2015 marks more manufacturing jobs due to companies returning from overseas facilities. New predictive technologies help secure capital investments, improve machinery and keep expenses lower by reducing labor costs. Supply chains also become more efficient as customization improves thanks, in part, to new automation technology that lowers costs. Employees must keep up by educating themselves on new software and new production techniques.

Low gasoline prices, coupled with more consumer spending, leads to a boost in auto sales. With home prices rebounding, an uptick in auto sales represents a stimulus package for Detroit automakers. Suppliers for car makers then need to hire more people to keep up with demand.

U.S. manufacturing can reach a new Golden Age if companies are able to keep up demand and maintain lower costs while hiring relevant people to boost new technology. If lawmakers and consumers can remain on board, it will be a great year for the American economy in 2015.


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