There is alot of talk about the decline of manufacturing in the U.S. There were some numbers that were published last week that showed 2 million jobs in the manufacturing sector had disappeared in the last three years. That is a pretty substantial loss when you consider the total number of people employed in manufacturing is 14.9 million people.
My father and I run a small sheet metal fabrication shop. So, I pay attention to alot of this sort of talk. I believe there is still alot of opportunity in making things for people. You have to exploit niches that are created by globalization. The logisitics for many items will not allow them to be moved off-shore economically. I think operations need to be based around producing in small lots sizes. You are not going to go to India to get five pieces made. Back home, the big fish always want the large runs and will fight over pennies to get them.
I think the death of manufacturing in the U.S. has been greatly exaggerated.
Let me give you some additional readings. The Wall Street Journal had a great series last week on the changing face of blue collar work. I think they did a good job of talking about the topic from a variety of angles.
Less Sweat, More Tech
- A New Blue-Collar World – 6/30/03
- The Lonely Life of a Steelworker – 6/30/03
- Better Off Blue Collar – 7/1/03
- Mr Do’s American Dream – 7/2/03
- New Job and New Tasks, Proving Yourself Again – 7/2/03
- Why U.S. Manufacturing Won’t Die
[These links need a subscription. It cost $39 for the on-line version if you subscribe to the print version of the WSJ and $79 if you get only the online version. Spend the money. It is well worth it.]