Back in November 2017, economists were confident that manufacturing was about to come roaring back in the U.S. after decades of decline. Now new analysis is painting a more modest, yet still optimistic picture of the state of American manufacturing in 2018.
Jobs Down, Efficiency Up
American manufacturing hit an all-time high in 1979. Back then, there were more than 19 million jobs in the industry. But since then, the sector has lost almost 7 million jobs.
However, even though the total number of jobs has fallen as many positions have moved overseas, U.S. manufacturing output has actually grown since 1979. That’s because the industry has gotten more efficient relative to the rest of the economy.
And while manufacturing’s share of GDP has been shrinking in the U.S., the same is also true in China, America’s biggest competitor in manufacturing.
Many economists have taken a crack at trying to predict what’s going to happen with U.S. manufacturing in 2018. Overall, the outlook remains positive.
The Institute for Supply Management predicts a 5.1% increase in revenue in 2018, and growth in 80% of manufacturing sectors.
However, with so much anticipated growth, companies may continue to have trouble finding qualified workers.
In 2017, nearly 65% of respondents to an industry survey reported having trouble finding manufacturing laborers for the most in-demand manufacturing jobs. (These include: industrial machine mechanics, tool operators, machinists, and welders.)
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