May 02, 2017      

It may seem like manufacturing jobs continue moving offshore, but that’s simply not always true. Thanks to improvements in automation and better tools for engineering, more positions are opening up for skilled manufacturing workers within the U.S., with companies like GM and Ford investing in new American jobs. This is the heart of the fast-growing reshoring movement.

What is reshoring? Simply put, it’s the practice of bringing manufacturing and service jobs back to U.S. citizens. In addition to balancing trade and budget deficits, this movement reduces unemployment and actually helps strengthen the U.S. economy. And thanks to increasing foreign labor costs and more complex manufacturing processes, reshoring is gaining momentum fast.

Currently, some of the most engaged reshoring companies are Wal-Mart (4,838 jobs), Ford (3,200 jobs), and Boeing (2,700 jobs). These three companies are followed closely by General Electric and General Motors, which have reshored 2,656 jobs and 2,345 jobs, respectively. And these are only the top five companies bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.

Overall, the manufacturing industry has brought more jobs back to U.S. citizens than any other industry in the past five years. Those top five companies alone have supplied U.S. citizens with over 16,000 jobs as part of the reshoring initiative.

American jobs evolve with automation

In addition to offshoring, robotics has had a large effect on American jobs in manufacturing. While automation has made certain manufacturing jobs redundant in the 21st century, it has also increased productivity and created entirely new types of jobs.

In fact, 2015 saw industrial robotics sales increase 15% to almost 253,748 units. That’s the highest level of manufacturing robotics sales recorded to date. Not only did it break a record for sales, it increased the value of the global market for industrial robots to $11.1 billion.

Some of the top industries rely on these manufacturing robots include the automotive industry (38%), electrical/electronics industry (25%), metal/machinery industry (12%), and the rubber and plastics industry (7%).

And while automation can be extremely useful in these industries, it also accounted for almost 50% of manufacturing jobs lost between 2001 and 2013. Some jobs have been lost to countries overseas — not to mention south of the border — but automation has been a driving factor in the decline of manufacturing jobs.

Fortunately, the manufacturing industry has been able to recover many of those jobs. Automation may be valuable in manufacturing settings, but it also requires human maintenance. This kind of specialized work requires specialized workers, leading to new, high-paying manufacturing jobs.

Thanks in large part to improved automation, manufacturing industry output increased more than 20% since the worst point in the Great Recession in 2009. Today, there are almost 12.3 million manufacturing employees in the U.S., and they make an average salary of $81,289, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

With any luck, the reshoring movement will continue to grow and provide more middle-class American jobs. Looking at this movement by the numbers, it’s safe to say there’s hope for the future.

Automation's Impact on American Jobs

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