The BLS just launched its updated New Occupational Outlook Handbook Online last week, on March 29, 2012.

We were pleased to see this given some attention.

We were also pleased to have provided information to the BLS on some of the job titles occupations that they updated.

It is an improvement, but the absence of “manufacturing” from the list of Occupational Groups is puzzling-

Has no one at BLS been listening to all the speeches by the President about “Manufacturing” and its importance to America?

To look up Manufacturing, you need to select “Production” as an Occupational Group.

Farmers produce, miners produce, those of us in Fabricated metals / machining- we manufacture. We make things.

But in the new OOH, we’re filed under production.

Production, you know, like Food Processing Operators, Water and Wastewater Treatment Operators, and Laundry and Dry Cleaning Operators.

I guess they think manufacturing (making things) is like running a sewage treatment plant or doing somebody else’s laundry?

Why is Manufacturing like doing someone elses laundry? It makes perfect sense to the folks in Washington D.C..

So here’s the scoop- the contents of the new OOH  are current, authoritative, and useable .

And hard to find. I asked a colleague and he required several tries to find CNC operator.

But you need to find them. So here’s the key:

Machinist and Tool and Die Makers (But NOT CNC!)

CNC Machine Operators and Programmers (hint, you’ll find these under Metal and Plastic Machine Operators.)

Heres what the BLS has to say about Metal and Plastic Machine Operators:

How to Become a Metal or Plastic Machine Worker

“A few weeks of on-the-job training are enough for most workers to learn basic machine operations, but 1 year or more is required to become highly skilled. Although a high school diploma is not required, employers prefer to hire workers who have one.”

Okay, so they didn’t get this one right.

Well maybe they did for machine tenders, but certainly not for CNC machinists.

And you won’t find Computer Numeric Controlled Machine Programmer under the Computer and Information Technology Occupational Group.

You’ll find them in the alphabetical list which links to the second tab of that metal and plastic machine operator page.

According to Tab 3 on the metal and plastic machine operator there are just 16,600 Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic.

2010-2020 Job Outlook for CNC Operators and Programmers can be found here.

The way I see it, Taxonomy is difficult, and the BLS’s decision to hide “Manufacturing” under Production doesn’t make sense to this aging baby boomer.

I see the world through Fabricated Metal Glasses and  manufacturing is people making things, not tending to  waste water or dry cleaning.

But the data and information that is available on the new site is current, authoritative, and I can say from my perspective – was vetted by people like me who helped the economists at BLS see these jobs from outside the beltway.

Congratulations for updating the Occupational Outlook Handbook Online.

We may not agree with all of your wording or taxonomy, but we are pleased to see good information about the opportunities for work in Manufacturing.

Even if they can’t say “Manufacturing” in Washington D.C..

Why do you think the officials in Washington D.C. can’t say the “M” word?”

Shrug photo link

The outlook is bleak for plant managers according to CBS News who listed the job title as one of the top ten positions in decline.

Automation and offshoring will decimate the ranks of production managers by 2018. According to the BLS, employment will drop by 11,900 jobs from a 2008 total of 156,100. With faster machines and better productivity, one plant can do the work of two, squeezing managers out. Increased imports of manufactured goods will do additional damage… The outlook is equally bleak for managers in the computer, electronics, and auto parts industries.”

The BLS Outlook for Production Managers:

Projections data from the National Employment Matrix

Occupational Title

SOC Code

Employment, 2008

Projected Employment, 2018

Change, 2008-18

Detailed Statistics



Industrial production managers


156,100 144,100 -11,900 -8



    NOTE: Data in this table are rounded.
Here is a brief Overview of the BLS entry for Industrial Production Manager:

Industrial production managers plan, direct, and coordinate the production activities required to produce the vast array of goods manufactured every year in the United States.  They make sure that production meets output and quality goals while remaining within budget.  Depending on the size of the manufacturing plant, industrial production managers may oversee the entire plant or just one area of it. Industrial production managers devise methods to use the plant’s personnel and capital resources to best meet production goals.  They may determine which machines will be used, whether new machines need to be purchased, whether overtime or extra shifts are necessary, and what the sequence of production will be.  They monitor the production run to make sure that it stays on schedule, and they correct any problems that may arise.” BLS

Plan, Direct, Coordinate production activities- those sound like things the shop’s computerized systems do- or are supposed to do.

If the computer runs the plant... what does the plant manager do?

Here’s the position that they ought to be talking about:  Profitability Engineer:

  • Who is responsible for generating and increasing profits?
  • Who is making sure the job is running at the cycle time and quality that it was quoted?
  • Who is assuring that the parts won’t have systemic errors because of inadequacies in quality control?
  • Who is helping to keep the machine cycles effective and efficient and pushing beyond “book” rates? That the jobs are run on machines  to assure best utilization of your company’s investment in Horsepower?

The profitability engineer is the one human being who can do these things. Not a computer. Not a manager. Not a boss.

The gap between your technology’s capability and its current level of operational attainment is where your hidden profits will be found. Is there a profitability engineer in your house?

Many  plant managers are in fact Profitability Engineers- maybe they ought to recognize that the value they add is not in managing a plant, but in engineering company profits.

Who is your company’s Profitability Engineer?

Plant Manager

Profitability Engineer

Profitability Engineering

Incidence rates for injuries and illnesses combined among private industry establishments declined significantly in 2010 for total recordable cases of job transfer and restriction: and for cases of days away from work, job transfer or restriction together remained unchanged from 2009.

Facts is facts. Critical thinking is making inferences from facts.

So why the high emphasis on enforcement?

While manufacturing was the sole private industry sector to experience an increase in the incidence rate of injuries and illnesses in 2010- the rate for manufacturing rose to 4.4 cases per 100 fulltime workers from 4.3 cases the year earlierthe increase is attributed to a greater decrease in the hours worked compared to the decline in the number of cases reported in the sector.

Interestingly- the BLS’s estimates for public sector (18.4 million state and local government workers) – shows the incidence rate for these public employees to be 5.7 cases per 100 full time workers.

Seems like manufacturing workers are about 29.55% safer by the BLS’s data than government employees are…

Manufacturing is unremarkable, when the Government talks about workplace fatalities.
That’s a good thing!

Manufacturing didn't make the chart!

The real good news in the  latest BLS report is that “the number of fatal work injuries in both the private and public sectors declined by 17% in 2009.”
The preliminary total  for 2009 was 4340, down from 5214 fatal workplace injuries in 2008.
While economic factors certainly played a part, we believe that the 17% decrease in fatalities  is more than just a reflection of the 6% decrease in hours worked in 2009 vs 2008.
The four most frequent types of  fatal workplace  injuries  1992-2009, according to the BLS are Highway incidents, Homicides, Falls, and Struck by Object.
For the record, Manufacturing accounted for 304 fatal work injuries,  and a  fatal work injury rate of 2.2 per 100,000 full time equivalent workers hours worked.
Get the BLS news release. 




The Bureau of Labor Services reported the preliminary productivity changes  in manufacturing for the second quarter of 2009:
5.3 percent gain in manufacturing;
3.9 percent gain in durable goods manufacturing;
2.0 percent gain in nondurable goods manufacturing.
According to the BLS, “The increases in productivity in all manufacturing sectors were the result of hours falling faster than output. Manufacturing includes about 11 percent of U.S. business-sector employment.

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Productivity is defined as output per hour worked.
The 5.3 percent gain in manufacturing productivity is reported to be the largest quarterly gain in this indicator since the first quarter of 2005, when output per hour increased at a 7.3 percent annual rate.  Over the last four quarters, manufacturing productivity declined 1.3 percent, as a 15.0 percent drop in output was largely offset by a 13.9 percent decline in hours worked…  For the entire 2000-2008 period manufacturing productivity increased at a 3.3 percent annual rate.
The BLS declining hours data  for manufacturing is  approximately double that of  the precision machining industry. PMPA’s Length of First Shift declined 7.9%  by the end of the second quarter compared to the BLS’s “hours worked decreased 14.4 percent ” figure for manufacturing in the second quarter.