From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (2/9/2011)

The Christian Science Monitor says manufacturing remains the key to U.S. competitiveness.

A recent report says that an end to currency manipulation could mean up to 1.3 million new American jobs.

The Atlantic hosted a summit in Washington this week on the future of U.S. manufacturing.  Among the panelists were General Electric chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Immelt.  C-SPAN carrying the hour-long event on a tape-delay basis.  Check it out.  Some good stuff, and lots of food for thought.

Despite all the fiscal cliff talk and the debt ceiling hand-wringing, the Institute for Supply Management said this week that U.S. manufacturing surged in January

More modest gains, but nevertheless significant ones were made in Europe and China — which, given where each has been of late, sure beats a sharp stick in the eye.  China’s growth, in fact, was its highest in two years.

Back to the U.S for a second, we’re now seeing higher factory activity than we have in the past nine months.  What’s more, despite many cutbacks in public works spending by municipalities all over the country, overall spending and investments in construction spiked in December.  And to add icing to the cake, American manufacturers continue to shine in overseas markets.

In a letter this week, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, urged President Obama to take some additional steps to help U.S. manufacturers.

From the One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor Dept:  despite the new-found strength of the sector, despite the ongoing recovery of the U.S. economy, due in large part to the re-shoring of so much manufacturing, and despite all the news reports about how automation and robotics are essential to the current U.S. manufacturing renaissance, here’s a report that says in January jobs did not keep pace with the growth in manufacturing.  Duh. That’s why I always say there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

PwC tells us that, despite all the last-minute election year rhetoric and all the sky-is-falling doomsday scenarios being trotted out to try to scare American voters into changing horses in the Oval Office, optimism among U.S. manufacturers actually rose in the 4Q of 2012.

Obviously feeling both the political heat and the financial recoil from its growing “Made in China” perception, Walmart CEO Bill Simon went on the offensive recently to try to debunk what he called “an urban legend.”

Here’s a terrific piece on what needs to be done to confront the growing U.S. advanace manufacturing skills gap.

In case you missed it, here’s a great piece from the New York Times on how, despite regular gains in U.S. manufacturing and the advent of many new and different kinds of factory jobs, union enrollment in this country continues to decline.

Here’s a wonderful story from Industry Week on U.S. manufacturing, which the magazine calls “the misunderstood economic powerhouse.”

This one is a little academic, but it’s still a well thought-out, researched and ultimately interesting dissertation on China, a shift in our national trade policy, what triggered the decline of U.S. manufacturing jobs at the beginning of this century.

And finally, let me leave you with this short video.  Yes, it’s a little dry, but its an interesting perspective on U.S. manufacturing, the decline of so-called “runway” plants, and what it calls the real issue when it comes to our sector, jobs, and the future of this economy of ours: sourcing.

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