The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity in its district accelerated strongly in February. The composite index for the general business assessment doubled from 14 in January to 28 in February. This was not far from November’s all-time high in the survey’s 34-year history (30). The bottom line is that manufacturers in the region see relatively strong expansions in activity through the first two months of 2018, continuing the trend of decent growth experienced for much of 2017. The underlying data were also encouraging, including healthy expansions in new orders (up from 16 to 27), shipments (up from 15 to 31), capacity utilization (up from 13 to 32), employment (up from 10 to 25) and capital expenditures (up from 18 to 28).
The Richmond Fed has also added several measures to provide even more details on this activity, with improvements seen in February for equipment and software expenditures (up from 22 to 27) and local business conditions (up from 13 to 29). In addition, an index was created for the availability of skills needed (down from -10 to -17), which continued to illustrate just how much tightness in the labor market has challenged manufacturers’ ability to hire new workers. Read More
Guest blog by Heidi Alderman, 2017 STEP Ahead Chairwoman and Senior Vice President, Intermediates North America, BASF Corporation
There is a place for us in manufacturing.
I have worked in the industry for more than 30 years and have seen an increasing number of women join the ranks. However, we still need more!
Manufacturers have difficulty recruiting women because many believe the jobs are physical, repetitive and boring—but none of this is true. Today’s manufacturing jobs are highly technical, well-paying and offer a variety of career options with bright futures.
Manufacturing allows women to use creativity to solve problems, contribute to society and connect with others. Women in manufacturing are given the chance to solve the world’s problems, something that not many can say of their jobs. My work gives me pride in knowing the difference BASF makes by creating chemistry that solves the world’s problems.
Growing up, I saw manufacturing become the backbone of the United States. I studied engineering in college because I excelled at math and science in high school. I didn’t quite know what engineering was, but as it turns out, I made the right choice.
For me, engineering isn’t just a job; it’s a mindset for solving problems, whether they are technical, commercial or life-related. I’ve had roles in research, manufacturing, purchasing, marketing and business management, and the work has always been challenging, exciting and fun. Science, technology, engineering and production (STEP) career fields require the unique skills that women bring to the workforce—a focus not only on achieving results, but also compassion for people, the desire to positively impact culture and the ability to motivate employees.
Although women in manufacturing have come a long way, I know we must work together to enhance the industry image and communicate the new opportunities in this age of change. Whether you’re interested in engineering, design or even marketing, there is a place for YOU in manufacturing.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that manufacturing activity remained strong in March, even as headline growth pulled back from its strongest pace since November 1983. The composite index of general business activity decreased from 43.3 in February to 32.8 in March, which continued to be quite elevated. Despite the easing in the composite measure, many of the underlying data points expanded at a faster rate in March. This included new orders (up from 38.0 to 38.6), shipments (up from 28.6 to 32.9), employment (up from 11.1 to 17.5) and the average workweek (up from 13.6 to 18.5). Indeed, 53.4 percent of respondents said that sales were higher in March than in February, which should bode well for activity down the line. On the downside, faster growth appears to be leading to increased pricing pressures (up from 29.9 to 40.7), its highest level since May 2011. Read More
The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity slowed in November but continued to expand ever-so-slightly. The composite index of general business conditions declined from 6 in October to 1 in November; yet, it was also the third straight month with this measure positive after two years of struggles. Indeed, manufacturers in the district have faced tremendous challenges due to global headwinds and reduced commodity prices, especially for crude oil. The underlying data in November mirrored the headline figure, with easing expansions for new orders (down from 14 to 6), production (down from 18 to 9) and shipments (down from 20 to 7). Export growth (down from 3 to zero) was stagnant in November after slightly improving in October for the first time since January. Read More
There are some days that are special and stand out even on the 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour, which has been an exciting, rewarding, educational and enlightening experience. Meeting with manufacturers, students and community leaders, talking about issues that matter and how to ensure manufacturers continued success is among the highlights, but today outside of Chicago, Illinois, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons met with the future of manufacturing.
Timmons was joined by Illinois Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) President and CEO Greg Baise, Siemens Foundation CEO David Etzwiler and the Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Jennifer McNelly to meet students and faculty at Palatine High School and Harper College. Both schools offer programs that not only encourage future jobs in manufacturing, but also show students how manufacturing careers can be life changing.
At the event, Timmons delivered his 2016 State of Manufacturing address and focused on key issues impacting workforce and the perception of manufacturing.
Highlights on Developing America’s Workforce:
“Over the next decade, the United States will need to fill 3.4 million manufacturing jobs. But 2 million of those jobs are likely to remain empty because there’s a shortage of trained workers. It’s what we call the ‘skills gap,’ and it affects all of us…through lost innovation, lower productivity and suppressed economic activity. The problem is especially disheartening given how hard it’s been lately for even college graduates to find good jobs…even though manufacturers have plenty to offer. The average manufacturing worker earns over $79,000 annually…$15,000 more than the national average for other industries. These wages can provide a good life for a family while saving for education and retirement. Why, then, are only 37 percent of parents encouraging their kids to pursue manufacturing careers? And why do only 18 percent of students view manufacturing as a top career choice? Because many people don’t understand modern manufacturing. Images of gritty factory floors of a century ago still hold sway. Manufacturers need to replace those images with visions of what manufacturing is today.”
Highlights on Changing the Perception of Manufacturing:
“Want to feed the world? Manufacturing is transforming agricultural technologies to provide plentiful, nutritious food for a growing population. Want clean energy and a sustainable economy? Well, that’s manufacturing, too—and it will require creativity and innovation. Want to save lives and treat debilitating diseases? Manufacturing includes pharmaceuticals. Want to invent the next revolutionary smart device? That’s manufacturing. More students—and their families, teachers and mentors—need to realize the opportunities that exist in manufacturing.” To read the whole speech, don’t forget to check out the President’s blog.
While at Palatine High School and Harper College, Timmons and the team met with students who have a passion for manufacturing.
Leading into today’s event and highlighting the key workforce issues, Timmons and Baise had an op-ed run in a popular Chicago area political blog.
Joint Op-Ed in ReBoot Illinois: U.S., Illinois Manufacturing Depends on Educated Workforce for 21st Century
By Jay Timmons and Greg Baise
No matter what issues the presidential candidates raise in their speeches, this election is about one thing: What will be the future of the United States?
If we want a future that produces better opportunities and raising standards of living, then we need to strengthen our global economic leadership. To do that, we will have to marshal all the human talent available to us.
Unfortunately, there are barriers preventing us from producing a workforce worthy of our people and our potential. To read the full op-ed, check it out here.
Leading up to the event, Timmons was on Chicago’s WIND AM 560 – The Answer with Dan Proft. Listen to the show here. Timmons also appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” with Rick Santelli live from the Chicago Board of Trade.
Social Media Wrap Day 5
We came to Chicago excited for what the Windy City has to offer. Check out the highlights from our social media and don’t forget to follow @shopfloorNAM on Twitter and Shopfloor on Facebook for the latest updates from the road.
Want to keep in touch with the NAM as we continue on the 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter @shopfloorNAM and online at www.nam.org/stateofmfg and share your tweets and pics with #stateofmfg and #weareMFG.
The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) reported decelerated growth in its latest Business Conditions Survey. The net percentage of respondents saying that their profit margins had increased over the past three months dropped from 24 percent in January to 10 percent in April, reflecting both weaker demand and higher costs. On the positive side, sales continue to expand, just at a slightly eased pace. This is especially true in the goods-producing sectors, which had half of those taking the survey say that their sales were higher in the quarter. Yet, 56 percent of respondents noted that slower growth in China had negatively impacted their businesses, with two –thirds saying that a stronger U.S. dollar had made a negative “material impact” on them. Read More
Today is the day that – every year – employers can begin to file applications for H-1B visas. Today is also the day that – every year – enough applications will be filed to exceed that cap; applications filed will likely more than double the 85,000 annual limit to H-1Bs issues each year, clearly proving this is an arbitrary number that is completely unresponsive to employer demand.
In a recent study by the Manufacturing Institute 66 percent of manufacturing executives said that when looking for engineers, researcher and scientists “finding candidates to enter the initial screening process” was by far the largest challenge they faced – more than “Offering compensation that appeals to qualified applicants” or “Making position requirements appeal to qualified talent.” Meaning that it is easier to create a positive work environment and provide a competitive salary, than it is to actually find someone to apply at all. Read More