May 4th, 2012

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Uptick in Manufacturing Raises Hope for More Job Opportunities for People With Disabilities


Tuesday’s news that American manufacturing activity grew in April substantiates recent optimism that the U.S. economy is on the rebound, and fosters hope for an increase in jobs when the Department of Labor issues its monthly report this Friday.

CNNMoney correspondent Annalyn Censky wrote that instead of the anticipated decrease in the Institute of Supply Management’s monthly index, readings showed an increase of more than a point, making April the 33rd consecutive month of growth for our country’s manufacturing sector, and creating new jobs. Censky writes:

Gradual improvement in manufacturing has been a bright spot in the economic recovery. Manufacturers added 120,000 jobs in first three months of the year, according to separate data collected by the Labor Department.

Manufacturing production and manufacturing jobs continue to be the litmus test for a healthy economy because of the job multiplier effect they have on other parts of the supply chain. Some experts even look at the 21st century trend of outsourcing various components of the logistics process to be an improvement over the traditional model that spawned behemoth facilities handling every facet of production from raw material to shipping; just so long as the work is being outsourced to Americans, which is fast becoming the top political football during the 2012 election cycle.

Exuberance is so great, in fact, that some are wondering whether manufacturing has ever really left the United States in the first place. On Tuesday, The Huffington Post published a column, titled “The Rebirth of American Manufacturing,” by Yul Kwon, host of the PBS series “America Revealed,” in advance of the latest episode.

A portion of Kwon’s column recounts experiences at a number of facilities large and small, then concludes with an expert telling him that America “is still a good place to build stuff.” Kwon writes:

We make more than 1.7 trillion dollars’ worth of goods each year — more than China, Germany, Japan or any other nation on earth. As surprising as it may seem, America is still the world’s number one manufacturing country. Domestically, manufacturing still accounts for 12% of the U.S. economy, employs about 11 million Americans, and generates countless spin-off jobs.

Kwon tempers his enthusiasm in the next paragraph by noting that automation of tasks and outsourcing has contributed to the elimination of jobs, particularly “lower value-added” jobs, one of the contemporary euphemisms for manual labor tasks. But these jobs may be coming back to the U.S. as well, if countries like China continue to shift their own manufacturing operations to America, to take advantage of tax incentives and maintain greater control over their supply chain. Perhaps these companies will see the value in hiring people with disabilities to handle the hands-on duties like assembly, packing, and sorting; not only for the chance to make life matter for these individuals but to further improve operations by hiring workers proven to be productive and reliable in their work.


Image by Ste3ve, used under its Creative Commons license.

One Response to “Uptick in Manufacturing Raises Hope for More Job Opportunities for People With Disabilities”

  1. Niamh May says:

    This is a very helpful blog post. I really appreciate the efforts you’ve done for the information

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