Posted: October 28, 2019 by Kelly Murphy-Redd

Manufacturing in the United States is Not a Thing of the Past
It Has a Big Impact on Our Present and Future

While we all know that manufacturing in the United States is less than what it used to be, it is still a large part of our economy and is undergoing a lot of change.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, manufacturing jobs accounted for 25% of total employment in 1970, 16% in 1990 and 8.5% currently. However, if you look at the “Final Output of U.S. –Made Goods,” manufactured items account for 30% of GDP. This describes the goods loaded on trucks, trains and ships, moving through warehouses and ending up on retailer’s shelves and floors.

There is a trend towards “re-shoring” in manufacturing today. Bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., increasing more “Made in the U.S.A.” products, is based on several factors.
  • Transportation costs are rising
  • Software using robotics is allowing manufacturers to automate
  • Wages are rising in countries whose economies are on the rise
  • In countries where wages are still low, infrastructure is not meeting manufacturer production requirements
Technology continues to affect change in manufacturing. Automation, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and “The Internet of Things” (IoT) is changing the way manufacturers do business.

“IoT and predictive analytics are having a major impact on manufacturing, offering exciting new opportunities for connecting operations and transforming business processes,” said Michael Strand, Senior Vice President at Hitachi Solutions America. “Innovation is driving business growth, and technology is enabling manufacturers to evolve with an increasingly digital-first business landscape.”

Hitachi Solutions gives the following example of Augmented Reality:

“… by using AR devices such as electronic glasses or goggles, computer-generated graphics can be placed in a worker’s field of vision that provide him with real-time help when it comes to performing a task.”

3-D Printing is transforming production. This technology drastically cuts the time and costs of making prototypes. This provides designers a cost-effective way to test their products. The automotive and aerospace industries are using this technology extensively.

Cyber security dominates technology concerns. As industry becomes increasingly digital, spending on security continues to rise. They need to find the balance between innovation and security.

Industries and university collaboration continues to grow. Sharing expertise and resources to research and develop new technology is part of the relationship. But, partnering to develop the workforce of the future is just as important. There is a shortage of workers in the technology field. Training a workforce to understand new technologies and implement them is an ongoing challenge for employers.

Looking a little closer to home, Governor DeSantis has proclaimed October as Manufacturing Month in Florida. There are over 20,000 manufacturers in Florida. Manufacturing accounts for 4.95% of Florida’s Gross State Product.

Florida Makes reports there are 17,863 manufacturing jobs in the 16-county region of Northwest Florida. It is estimated that Okaloosa County’s top 10 manufacturers employee over 4,000 people.
Manufacturing is still an important, growing and changing part of the U.S. economy, Florida’s economy and Okaloosa County’s economy. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.