Four of the top five manufacturing sectors by added employment  in 2012 were key markets served by precision machining; Transportation Equipment, Motor Vehicles and Parts, Fabricated Metal Products, Machinery.

(The fifth market was Food Manufacturing, and yes, some of our companies make parts for food service too- think blender parts, nozzles and components for food dispensing, preparation and packaging equipment.)

Graph courtesy Chad Moutray, National Association of Manufacturers, NAM.
Graph courtesy Chad Moutray, National Association of Manufacturers, NAM.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Jobs in Manufacturing increased by 180,000 in 2012.

“In December, manufacturing employment rose by 25,000, with small gains  in a number of component industries. In 2012, factory employment increased by 180,000; most of the growth occurred during the first quarter.”

“In December, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours. The manufacturing workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours.”

While there are signs that manufacturing employment gains have slowed down in the second half, those were connected to the economic uncertainties tied to the Presidential Election, Fiscal Cliff, and Global Economic Slowdown. Two of these three special causes are now behind us.

As the graph above shows, Manufacturing is the place to look for employment gains.

The softness in manufacturing employment in the last half of 2012 belies the demand that our industry will have for talented workers going forward. As the BLS workweek hours indicate, Manufacturing currently is using overtime to meet its needs. Given demographic trends, current lean staffing, and the push to reshore production, any economic upturn at all will be strongly bullish for employment prospects in Manufacturing in 2013.

Improvements in Housing Markets are already visible and  a 15+ million auto sales forecast are two indicators that suggest if you want to find a well paying job in 2013, Precision Machining (Advanced Manufacturing) is a great place to apply.

For information about careers in Precision Machining, check out our Career Resources Page on the PMPA Website.

Find a training program near you using PMPA’s Comprehensive Jobs Training Database.

I continue to speak with instructors, counselors, and officials at local community colleges across the country. They are unanimous in saying that their machining students “have multiple job offers before they graduate.”

October’s numbers, while up from September’s, are discouraging to our forecast of industry sales for 2012. With seasonal declines already built into November and December, we believe that the Industry will be fortunate to come in even with last year. Add in the global economic slowdown, fiscal cliff, and we believe that dreams of 2012 shipments beating 2011 are not in the cards.

Looking like a sluggish 4Q for 2012…2012 will likely finish below 2011.

You can read our October 2012 Business Trends Report here.

We had expected shipments of Precision Machined Products to increase 8% over 2011, based on First Quarter 2012 Shipments.

We believe that special causes- uncertainty regarding the November election and the upcoming fiscal cliff- derailed the strong demand for manufactured goods after August.

Now everyone’s eyes are glued to reports of Housing recovery as a good omen, but sales to that sector are a small part of our industry’s demand.

I’m thinking coal in our stockings thanks to the shenanigans in Washington.

I’m thinking coal in our stockings thanks to the shenanigans in Washington.

Chicago Dope