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UpFront: Top 10 Reasons for Optimism in 2014







 By Sarah A. Webster
Editor in Chief

1. “Manufacturing is experiencing a comeback.” So says a December report from the Joint Economic Committee Democratic Staff, entitled, “Manufacturing Jobs for the Future.” It showed manufacturing has added about 554,000 jobs between February 2010 and November 2013, helping drive US unemployment down to 7%, the lowest level in five years.

2. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle are tuned into the workforce-development issues facing STEM fields, such as manufacturing, and they are working diligently to do something about it. Interestingly, the Manufacturing Jobs report noted that many of the new manufacturing jobs aren’t in the same areas where manufacturing jobs have been lost in recent decades, demonstrating the need to retrain and reorient the workforce.

3. For now, a new generation of advanced manufacturing machines, aided by smooth software and new levels of automation, are helping manufacturers do more with less. And those high-tech systems are helping to offset relatively higher labors costs in the US and giving American manufacturers a solid business case to build things at home again.

4. Energy is the lifeblood for this complementary workforce of advanced machines, and that blood is, for now, cheaper here. That’s because the US energy boom, aside from driving up demand for equipment needed to tap into new oil and gas sources, is helping to lower industrial energy costs at home.

5. When manufacturing work comes home, exports typically go up, and that means cash is coming into the economy, rather than going out. Manufacturing exports over the past year totaled $1.2 trillion, up 38% since 2009.

6. In fact, for every dollar of manufacturing work that comes back to the US, it generates an estimated $1.48 worth of additional economic activity.

7. It’s an IMTS year. The International Manufacturing Technology Show will be held in Chicago from Sept. 8 to 13. The event, which happens every two years, bolsters interest in new technology and purchasing of machines, software, accessories and services.

8. On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Congress announced it had reached a bipartisan budget deal. Who doesn't love this kind of cooperation?

9. This year might be the first since the end of the Great Recession where GDP growth averages 3.0% or more, Chad Moutray, Chief Economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, writes in this month’s Viewpoints column.

10. Optimism always trumps pessimism! So remain cautious, and keep your worst-case scenario plans at hand, but let’s all aim for a good year.


This article was first published in the January 2014 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF

Published Date : 1/1/2014

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