Thursday, February 3, 2011

Manufacturing Jobs - On the Rise or Decline? Two Perspectives

Now, I love Huffington Post, and recommend that anyone interested in staying up to date on employment trends (and current affairs, for that matter), follow HuffPost.  But, it seems that, at least in this instance, HuffPost could not reach a consensus on whether manufacturing in America is on the rise, or decline.

On February 1, at 10:00 p.m., Ian Fletcher published the "Decline of Us Manufacturing: Factory Body Count and Epitaphs."  Mr. Fletcher dug through some detailed statistics and presents a compelling truth: factories in America are a dying breed - or at least are far less robust and healthy than they once were.  I think we all know that the American manufacturing industry has taken a huge hit in the past decade [insert &%$#%^* NAFTA adjective here], but until I read Mr. Fletcher's article, I did not realize how big the hit actually was. 

Just a few hours earlier, in an article entitled "American Manufacturing Expands at Fastest Rate in 7 Years -- But Recovery Still Uneven,"  Lisa Shapiro cited credible sources for the proposition that, in 2010, the American manufacturing industry created more jobs than it lost for the first time in more than a decade.  And January 2011 marked the 18th straight month of improvement in this area, the fastest rate of growth since 2004.  So, these are very, very good things.

Ms. Shapiro concluded her Blog with a cautionary note, however.  She cited a recent cover story from Time Magazine that postulated that, in the long run, the years of manufacturing being a lead industry for jobs is long behind us.  The future, Time posits, is not in blue collar labor.  Rather, the economic recovery will, "more than ever," favor "the college educated over blue collar..."

On this, I expect, both Ms. Shapiro and Mr. Fletcher would agree.

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