The chart above, by Michelle Hopgood of the Martin Prosperity Institute, outlines which manufacturing fields are most prevalent based on detailed data on production occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. […]
Manufacturing work is important. We should applaud the men and women who do it, and do our best to make it better, more engaging, and higher paying. The best manufacturing jobs today look more like knowledge jobs, involving high levels of analytical and social intelligence skill such as team building and developing others.
But manufacturing will not provide a viable economic future, at least not by itself.
For starters, pay for productions workers is below the national average. Their average pay is $33,700 per year, or $16.24 per hour. That compares to an average of $44,410 across all jobs, or $21.35 per hour.
Even more telling: some manufacturing industries pay much better than others. The 66,530 tool and die makers or the 36,200 aircraft assemblers have great jobs earning - $48,710 and $45,230, respectively. But the nearly 150,000 sewing machine operators average just $22,630 a year, or $10.88 per hour.
The number of manufacturing jobs is also falling quickly, despite the government’s best efforts. Roughly 8.2 million American workers are employed in production jobs. This does not count the 408,000 Americans who work in fishing, forestry, and farming occupations. Add them in and it brings the total to 8.6 million workers, roughly 6.5 percent of America’s total labor force of roughly 127 million. That’s down from roughly a third of the workforce in 1950. And it’s projected to decline further, to about 5 percent, by 2020.
Read more at The Atlantic Cities. [Image: Michelle Hopgood/Martin Prosperity Institute]