Will Domestic Manufacturing Jobs Make a Comeback This Year?

Joe Weinlick
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If you're on the lookout for manufacturing jobs, now may be the time to update your resume. The manufacturing sector, like the retail sector, draws its economic strength from buyer demand. When consumer trends change, both industries have to adapt accordingly or suffer the consequences. For example, consumer demand for American-made — rather than Chinese-made — products led, in part, to the recent reshoring movement.

The U.S. manufacturing industry became markedly less active on American soil after an early 21st century shift from domestic to overseas production. Manufacturing jobs, once a reliable source of employment for U.S. residents, became scarce almost overnight as companies sought to lower per-unit cost and increase profits.

Manufacturing industry unemployment levels rose from 3.6 percent in January 2000 to 7.2 percent in January 2003 as assembly line positions vanished. The manufacturing jobs market subsequently declined even more: by January 2010, unemployment levels stood at 13 percent. After that, however, things started to gradually improve. U.S. consumers' increased focus on American-made items, coupled with a growing middle class in China, have produced sweeping changes in the production industry.

Manufacturing jobs are now moving back to the U.S. mainland as companies choose to reshore their production processes. Job roles, however, have changed significantly. At this point, you're more likely to find a manufacturing career if you opt for a managerial position, or choose to work in direct sales or a tech support department. Automation, which has now largely replaced assembly line work, has created a number of new jobs, many of which are related to computer programming and machinery maintenance.

Manufacturers need to continue to increase output while maintaining cost levels, a requirement that is unachievable without a significantly increased amount of technology; hence the changing landscape of manufacturing jobs.

Several states have seen a major increase in the number of manufacturing jobs in 2014; others have shown increased manufacturing industry activity without a related surge in employment opportunities. South Carolina, Michigan and Wisconsin all fall into the first category, while California falls into the second.

As more businesses in the retail sector partner with domestic manufacturers, the overall number of jobs in the manufacturing industry is likely to increase. As more businesses in the retail sector partner, the overall number of jobs in the manufacturing industry is likely to increase.

Certain parts of the country have experienced strong manufacturing growth this year; other areas haven't been quite as fortunate. Nevertheless, reshoring has turned from a buzzword into a tangible reality for U.S. job seekers — particularly those willing to relocate to find employment. The number of available manufacturing jobs may never hit the high it achieved at the end of the 20th century. Solid manufacturing career opportunities, however, do seem to be emerging once again.

Photo courtesy of dan at Freedigitalphotos.net


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