Today I performed a Google keyword search for “is dead” to see what happened to pop up. This was not an exercise in macabre as much as it was an attempt to satisfy my curiosity of what exactly had been declared “dead” in my lifetime. I was amazed to find that almost every genre of music, Hollywood, Communism, Paul McCartney, Microsoft, and even Government (to name just a few) are all dead! What I gathered from this exercise is when the court of popular opinion looses interest in something it simply calls the worn out item “dead” and moves on. I suppose this is done to satisfy our (that is the collective “our”) need to have a sense of closure in the things we do so we can move on.
Much is the same in the case of manufacturing. I recently saw a post on facebook that read something along the lines of,
“The times are changing. 40 years ago it was farming, 10 years ago it was manufacturing. The sooner people realize that manufacturing is never coming back, the sooner the economy will recover.”
When I read this I immediately thought to myself, “Hey, that’s not true. Just last year industries in Wayne County announced the creation of 605 new jobs”. I do realize that Wayne County is a small fraction of what’s going on in the US so I began to research some articles to see for myself if the facebook post had any real ring of truth to it. In my search, I ran across several articles that definitely exclaimed, “Manufacturing is Dead”. As I began to peel back the layers, I began to find articles that were recently dated suggesting the opposite, manufacturing is very much alive and in fact it’s beginning to see some positive traction.
While I was reading through article after article, I learned that in January 2012 manufacturing saw its best month of growth in five years, following a strong performance in December. This was the best back-to-back monthly performances seen since the recession ended in 2009! That certainly doesn’t indicate a dying entity… I read further and began to see a picture that was significantly different than what the court of popular opinion hears. I believe the reason people really think manufacturing is dead is due in large part to the countless stories we have all heard about areas across the country that have been decimated and reduced to veritable ghost towns because manufacturing jobs were lost. While that is very true and certainly disheartening, the manufacturing sector is growing. Albeit a slow growth; it’s still growing. In fact in 2011, factories contributed 13% of the new jobs that were created – in January that percentage was closer to 20%! It is this kind of contribution that aides in the rebuilding of the US economy. Growth in the manufacturing sector has a ripple effect into other industries e.g. shipping, warehousing, retail, and transportation (automotive, aircraft, ships). It is the ultimate virtuous cycle. As manufacturing grows, its outliers grow – as those outliers grow, so do the creation of jobs, increased discretionary income, and eventually personal spending; which in turn increases production #GROWTH!
This isn’t a pipe dream unrealized; this is what’s happening right here in the U.S. Sure, it may not be the hot topic of the week, the month, or the year for that matter BUT it’s there growing – as we get up and go to work, as we go out to eat, as we play with our kids, as we go to school, as we fall asleep – it’s there growing. So manufacturing isn’t dead after all, it’s been there all along living, surviving, and now…growing.