By Ben Rand

Oct. 3 is Manufacturing Day, the annual celebration of manufacturing in North America, designed both to acknowledge this important economic engine and to dispel common misperceptions about manufacturing. Here’s a test. Which of the following statements about manufacturing is true?

a) Manufacturing is so “Old Economy.”   

b) Manufacturing doesn’t pay well.

c) Manufacturing has all moved to China.

d) Manufacturing jobs are hard to find.

e) None of the above.

If you answered “e” go to the head of the class! Now let’s debunk these falsehoods one by one.

Manufacturing is not “Old Economy.” In fact, manufacturing is cutting edge and the major driver of innovation in our economy. According to the National Science Foundation, manufacturers in the United States perform two-thirds of all private-sector research and development nationwide. The manufacturing sector spends 4.5% of domestic net sales on R&D, well above the 2.8% average of all non-manufacturing sectors. Manufacturers are continually developing new products and technologies to bring to the market, as well as using innovations such as lasers, robotics and additive manufacturing to build their products faster, cheaper and better. The new Buffalo Manufacturing Works, run by EWI, will help manufacturers bring cutting-edge technologies to WNY factory floors.

Manufacturing does pay well. According to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average manufacturing worker in the U.S. earned $77,505 in 2012, including pay and benefits, compared to only $62,063 for the average worker in all other industries. That’s a difference of $15,441 per year or almost a 25% premium for manufacturing workers.

Manufacturing has not all moved to China. Based on figures from the World Bank and the United Nations, America and China appear to have equal shares of the global manufacturing pie. While it’s true that China’s share has been growing and America’s shrinking over the last 20 years, China has serious problems with labor costs and demographic trends.

Manufacturing jobs are not hard to find. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 12 million direct manufacturing jobs in the U.S, not to mention the millions of indirect jobs manufacturing supports. In 2012, Deloitte conducted an industry survey and found that approximately 5% of all manufacturing jobs—about 600,000 nationwide—go unfilled because manufacturers cannot find people with the necessary skills due, in part, to the false assumptions.

That’s why we’re celebrating Manufacturing Day by partnering with WNY STEM Hub and “Dream It, Do It WNY,” the grassroots program that educates kids about careers in manufacturing, to showcase some of the great things area schools are doing to educate kids about manufacturing.

Join us at the Buffalo Charter School for Applied  Technologies at 8 a.m. on Oct. 3 to see what their students (your future employees) are learning and doing with additive manufacturing, welding and other manufacturing tools and techniques.

In fact, there is so much to see and learn about WNY manufacturing, that we cannot squeeze it all into one day. So we’re expanding Manufacturing Day into Manufacturing Month and we’ll be offering factory tours, open houses, job fairs and a Women in Manufacturing event throughout the five counties of WNY.

Insyte Consulting