I’m hearing more and more about the comeback of manufacturing in the United States. The McKinsey Global Institute presents manufacturing as one the most dynamic sectors of the U.S economy. Last week’s episode of 60 Minutes painted a rosy picture of manufacturing coming back to the U.S. as a result of advances in technology and robotics.
So where are the jobs?
The same dynamics driving the comeback–advances in technology– are replacing traditional manufacturing jobs. Many of these jobs aren’t coming back. The case study on 60 Minutes depicted a huge warehouse with little robots scurrying around filling orders. Other ones are loading and stacking metal panels, peeling apples and assembling electric shavers at blinding speed. This will bring back manufacturing to the U.S. as the need for low cost labor in other countries is reduced. However, it doesn’t mean the jobs will come back with it.
This doesn’t necessarily mean unemployment will get worse than it is today. However, it does mean there will be a need for qualified technicians, such as electricians and mechanics, to replace the assembly line workers. As I have discussed in other articles, this need isn’t currently being satisfied today. It’s really up to those that are in a position to influence our students, trade schools, high schools and community colleges to do so and point them in the right direction. While unemployment may go down from where it is today, we may never see it get back to where it was when the economies of the past were firing on all cylinders.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you.