State of Manufacturing: Better than you may think

In our research report, we acknowledged declining manufacturing employment in Washington state and underscored the importance of these good jobs.

Over the [past 15 years], manufacturing declined by 15 percent, losing 50,400 jobs. These jobs tend to have high multipliers, so declines have a strong ripple effect through the economy…

Within the manufacturing category, increased productivity continues to reduce the number of employees required for any given level of output. However, one continued area of employment strength is aerospace, which employed 2,000 more workers in September 2014 than it did January 2000.

And we pointed to some of the challenges faced by the sector.

In its latest survey of manufacturing companies, the tax and consulting firm McGladrey found that 73 percent of Washington employers cited state regulations as negatively impacting growth, higher than any other state.

There’s good news, too, as AWB president Kris Johnson writes in the National Association of Manufacturers’ Shopfloor blog.

In Washington State, the carbon fiber industry is poised to be the next great job growth sector. Washington will soon have the newest technology 777X carbon fiber wing manufacturing plant in the world, and we’re already home to SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, which manufactures lightweight parts for BMW’s electric car.

Johnson points out some of the reasons for manufacturing employment growth, beginning with “the abundance of clean, renewable and cost-effective power.”

Keeping energy rates low and ensuring access to critical freight corridors, including port operations, are keys for the manufacturing sector to remain competitive. 

Read his post here. His conclusion embraces our priorities for shared prosperity.

The state of manufacturing is strong, but it could be even stronger if we encourage smart public policy, advocate an education system that prepares the next generation of workers in the industry and provide access to the capital needed to compete in the global marketplace.

 Tomorrow in Spokane Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, will deliver a State of Manufacturing address at an event cosponsored by AWB and Greater Spokane Incorporated. The latest national hiring and income numbers are encouraging.