It’s no secret that the U.S. has been struggling to rebuild its manufacturing sector since the offshoring movement began decades ago. However, it looks like hard work is starting to pay off. Last year, 264,000 manufacturing jobs were added–a whopping 172,000 more than the prior year. According to the White House and other experts, employment numbers are going to increase at a steady rate thanks to American companies relying more heavily on domestic supply chains due to recent trade tariffs.
“Manufacturers are bringing people back into the workforce, and we need this trend to continue.” Said chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers, Dr. Chad Moutray. “Our industry currently faces a workforce crisis with more than half a million open jobs today, and 2.4 million jobs expected to go unfilled over the next decade. Closing the skills gap continues to be the top challenge facing manufacturers in the United States and is absolutely essential to ensuring that the sector continues to grow.”
Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist for the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, N.J., shared his thoughts on the trend: “What I think companies have done is come to recognize that no matter how it will end, they have seen how vulnerable they are to protectionism.” Instead of facing fines and tariffs for outsourcing goods, companies might be hiring workers for short periods. “Workers are viewed more like inventory,” said Baumohl. “If you need them, you can hire them, and if the economy really turns south, you can let them go.”
Factors like expensive freight containers, shortage of truckers, and U.S.-China trade negotiations have all prompted companies to rely on domestic supply chains.
Although the U.S. is experiencing positive numbers in manufacturing, the bigger picture shows the large amount of work that still needs to be done. Manufacturing jobs are at the same level as they were in 1949, when the economy and population were vastly different. Today, the percentage of Americans in the manufacturing sector is almost as low as its ever been at just 8.5%. But, with proper trade negotiations and training to close the skills gap, the positive trend will likely continue.