NAM Report: Demand for Workers Boosts Wages

The NAM has just released its 10th annual Labor Day Report, a review of the U.S. economy, with particular emphasis on the manufacturing sector and — it being Labor Day — workers. You can see the entire report and additional resources by going to the NAM’s page,

The report began a decade ago to provide balance to the inevitably dour view of the economy offered annually by organized labor. No matter what the figures said, labor’s take was always something along the line of, “Workers are getting a raw deal.”

Now, the NAM doesn’t shy away from the facts. As NAM Chief Economist David Huether explains in the video above, the last four quarters have seen the biggest downturn in housing in 16 years.

Still, the economy is strong, and workers are doing remarkably well. Key highlights from the Labor Day Report:

  • The labor market is tight, with the unemployment rate nationally at 4.6 percent. Many parts of the country (Montana, as this report notes), are absolutely crying for workers.
  • With demand high, about 95 million working Americans, representing 82 percent of the workforce, received real wage gains over the last year.
  • This represents the broadest gain in real wages since 2000. (Only three industry sectors experienced declines in real wages – retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and utilities.)
  • Gains among the manufacturing workforce are even stronger, as the sector’s employees earned 30 percent more than the private-sector average.
  • In real dollar figures, that final fact translates to the average yearly compensation for a full-time worker in manufacturing rising to $68,860, compared to an average of $53,500 in the rest of the private-sector workforce.

    Good news for manufacturing workers, definitely, but the sign of lots of headaches for employers. NAM members we’ve surveyed report serious difficulties hiring skilled employees; indeed, the issues ranks only second to health care as a concern for NAM members.

    With Labor Day also arrives the start of the new school year, and we think the NAM’s Annual Labor Day report serves a pedagogic purpose. Hey, you young people: You want to earn a good wage? Study math and science, gain some technical skills, and get into manufacturing.

    We really need you.

    Again, the report is:

    Join the discussion One Comment

    • Innercents says:

      Now it’s 2008 – economy is worse – unemployment is up – and there’s big layoffs in the auto industry. I think these figures on the whole industry aren’t a fair balance of the typical manufacturer worker. If the Big 3 autoworkers are included that’s going to make the average wage substantially higher than a majority of others. Technology is getting smaller and with nanotechnology, fuel changes, Generation X (oh wait – are we on Y now?) is going to have a different understanding of manufacturing than this past generation.

      Executive Coaching

    Leave a Reply