This is your workforce in 2020.

BLS published the data behind the above look at our workforce in 2020 earlier this year.   

BLS Workforce

But it was something that we saw at IMTS made us really think about how this issue will affect our shops- see the video below.


What are you doing to make sure that your vision of your shop’s skilled workforce in 2020 isn’t a shiny faced robot?

The competitiveness of Manufacturing in North America has helped it to lead the recovery out of the last recession.

What are the trends that we face in Manufacturing going forward?

” I see two graphs that will determine the success of manufacturing.”


The following graph shows that since 2007, manufacturers have added more educated workers while eliminating less skilled / less educated positions:

Word to potential workers: Skills not labor to work in Manufacturing.

Increasingly employers are looking for credentials for skills rather than 2 and 4 year degrees.

Right Skills Now is one way for math capable candidates to get their start in a career in advanced manufacturing in CNC operations.

RSN curriculum

Demand for skilled workers “blues”:

The blue bar segments in the following graph shows us that as the baby boomer cohort leave the workforce, there are currently not enough under 25  and 25- 34 year olds to make up for their loss. This means that  not only will productivity increases have to continue, but also that we need to really make an effort to bring 34 and under people into our skilled workforce in manufacturing. This will certainly be a challenge for employers, and if nothing is done, will mean a new management version of  the  No Job Blues–  “the no skilled worker blues” – for our shops as we try to find candidates for open positions left by the departing boomers.

If you are a savvy shop, you are working on this issue today- if the average age of our manufacturing workers is 50, that means over half of our workforce are within a few short years of retirement.

What’s your plan for workforce and skill development in your shop, city, region and state?

How’s it working out for you?

Graphs : U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration, Mark Doms Chief Economist

Crystal Ball

Low unemployment numbers can be deceiving. When the unemployment rate declines, it does not necessarily mean that more people found jobs. Instead the number can reflect people  dropped off the official unemployment rolls and out of the workforce. How is that “good news?”

Unemployment figures should be taken with a grain of salt.

In the county where I live, the number of unemployed dropped from 6800 to 5600 in November, according to county workforce director  in a recent news story in our weekly paper,  The Post.

Yay ! 1200 people no longer unemployed? A 17.6 % drop- in  unemployment?

Not so fast.  “…the number of people employed in Medina County remained at approximately 91,700 over that same period.”

People who run out of benefits and quit actively  seeking work drop off the list of unemployed and are also no longer counted as part of the workforce.

The estimated workforce in Medina County dropped from 98,500 in July to 97,300 in November.

1200 in all.

The 1200 people  that dropped from the unemployment rolls- would seem to be the 1200 people  who also dropped out of the workforce between July and November.

So that 1200 person drop in unemployment is not good news- it doesn’t mean that 1200 people now have found good paying jobs.

In reality, it means that those 1200 people have run out of benefits and are not counted by the officials as unemployed nor as part of the county workforce.

That’s why we don’t report on changes in the unemployment rate- the changes are PRESUMED to mean that the employment situation got better. The reality is that those people are now officially invisible, as they aren’t even counted in the workforce, nor are they counted as unemployed. But they are unemployed.

When a change in an indicator can mean more than one thing, it is questionable to use it as an indicator. Does it mean this? Does it mean that?

Ambiguous indicators are worse than worthless- they are deceptive. Changes in the unemployment rate are ambiguous indicators- they could mean an uptick in hiring, or they could mean people have run out of benefits and are no longer being counted as part of the workforce.

In the case of unemployment statistics,  what appears to be good news (a drop in the unemployment rate) is not always good news (the people are just no longer counted as unemployed nor as part of the workforce).

That’s why we don’t post about unemployment. And when anyone does, we suggest you take it with a grain of salt.

Glenn Wojciak article in The Post

Morton Salt photo