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5 Myths About Manufacturing Jobs

There are plenty of myths regarding manufacturing, the jobs available, and the future of the sector. Some of these myths are no big deal – the myth that the U.S. can’t compete with China, for instance, doesn’t drive people away from a manufacturing career path. In truth, we do compete with China, but while we can’t beat them when it comes to sheer quantity, we can beat them in quality. What hurts the most are myths that drive people away from manufacturing careers; careers that could be great for them to get into. If you are considering launching into a manufacturing career and you hear these myths, you need to ignore them.

Manufacturing Jobs are Low-Skill Jobs

In the past, many manufacturing jobs have been simple, hands-on, singular tasks. Turning wrenches, hammering, and manual assembly jobs were representative of the activities a worker would be required to do every day. In the modern manufacturing climate, workers are just as likely to be programming machines as welding pieces together. They will shift from one task to another, sometimes over the course of a single day. These are skilled jobs and require flexibility and highly developed skills.

Manufacturing Jobs are Dead-End Jobs

Most manufacturers are not interested in hiring workers who do not see themselves growing within the company. Innovation, the evolution of talent, and ideas are leading the sector into the future, and companies get it. Many companies hire with the idea that the new employees will learn and advance within the company as well as offer various educational opportunities for continued growth.

Manufacturing Jobs Don’t Pay Well

A century ago, manufacturing jobs were low-paying jobs with few benefits, and that has been a characterization that has been difficult to shake. Today the average manufacturing job is worth a combined $17,000 per year more in pay and benefits (including health benefits, retirement funds, pension plans, and more) than the average non-manufacturing or service industry position.

Women Aren’t Welcome in Manufacturing Jobs

Manufacturing is a male-dominated sector, and has been historically – that can’t be argued. However, manufacturing companies have been working to change that, and are not only open to more women joining the workforce, but have been actively pursuing it. This falls in line with the pursuit of innovation and evolution – manufacturers want the brightest minds, regardless of their gender.

The Manufacturing Job Means Working in a Dirty Environment

In the early days of manufacturing, many times the conditions were deplorable.  Lighting and air quality was poor at best, and unsafe working conditions were the norm.  No longer.  Today the manufacturing work environment is clean, safe, with temperature and humidity controlled environments.  Modern machine tools are computer controlled and ergonomically designed to reduce fatigue.  Companies realize that in order to produce the highest quality products, the work environment and operating conditions have to be of the highest standard possible.

What debunking all these myths demonstrates is that a career in manufacturing has a lot to offer. Whether at Hi-Tek  or any of the thousands of other manufacturers across the country, manufacturing workers are incredibly satisfied with their jobs, and continue to demonstrate that a career in a manufacturing job was their best choice. Manufacturing offers great jobs, and manufacturers are looking for more workers to fill them.

Mythbuster? What’s the Real Story on Reshoring of American Manufacturing?

With the recent news of many American companies either making moves to reshore their manufacturing operations back to the United States many in the media have been speculating whether there truly is an American manufacturing renaissance and whether the reshoring of American manufacturing back to the U.S. was a myth or really fact.

Here are two of the most commonly viewed questions that we believe are myths about reshoring and then the facts as they stand today.

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Myth:  It still is cheaper to manufacture in countries like China and India where there are lower wages.

Fact:  Although wages still remain relatively low in these and other countries like Turkey, Vietnam, and Mexico, the wage difference between the U.S. and these countries can be offset by other lower expenses such as logistics and lower energy costs.   Even wages in other countries are on the rise, so this differential may not be that great in the near future.

For example, the cover story for the April 22, 2013 Time magazine was “Made in USA – Manufacturing is Back ─ But Where are the Jobs?”   Important stats from the article showed that China’s average hourly wage was only $0.50 in 2000, however by 2015 it was projected to increase to nearly but $4.50. Another statistic that was mentioned was that the cost to ship a 40-ft. container from China to the West Coast of the U.S. increased from $1,184 in 2009 to $2,302 in 2013. These facts outlined by Time magazine editors backs-up a 2011 Boston Consulting Group report about the eventual convergence of total costs to manufacture in the U.S. and China by 2015.

Myth:  If reshoring is happening, then where are the jobs?

Fact:  Manufacturing created 500,000 jobs in the past three years, of that Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Initiative estimates that between 2010 and 2012, about 50,000 jobs were created because of the reshoring trend.  The Reshoring Initiative promotes and tracks cases of reshoring across the U.S.

In addition, a February 2012 Boston Consulting Group survey found that 37 percent of U.S. manufacturers with $1 billion or more sales were contemplating reshoring some of their current China based production back to the United States.  Mainly due to rising wages in China as well as other factors related to Chinese labor laws.

And the reshoring isn’t just American companies bringing work back to the U.S.  Other countries with higher labor costs such as Japan and Europe are finding that it is less expensive to base manufacturing plants in the U.S. to lower labor costs and to shrink logistical expenses.  Examples include, Nissan, Honda, and Toyota are ramping up their exports from their United States facilities. Ikea opened a new furniture factory in Danville, Virginia to cut shipping costs. Airbus, the European airline manufacturer has begun construction of a new factory in Mobile, Alabama.

What do you think?  Is this a myth, reality, or somewhere in between?