What Do Americans Think about Manufacturing—and Its Future?


From NAM Input, The National Association of Manufacturers

Do Americans think manufacturing is important? How do they view the technological changes transforming the industry along with the rest of the economy?

Two recent surveys shed light on these important questions. First, a survey conducted by the Brookings Institution asked Americans what they think about manufacturing’s present state. More from the survey summary:

  • “Fifty-eight percent believe manufacturing is very important to the American economy, 14 percent think it is somewhat important, 6 percent feel it is not very important, and 22 percent are unsure.”

However, opinion varied markedly by age group, with younger people seeing manufacturing as less important:

  • “Seventy-one percent of people over the age of 55 believe manufacturing is very important, whereas only 45 percent of those aged 18 to 34 years feel that way. That is a 26 percentage point difference in feelings about the subject between these age groups.”

Now, what about manufacturing’s future? Another survey, by Gallup and Northwestern University, asked Americans, Canadians and Brits whether they thought their countries were prepared for technological change in the “AI age.” From Bloomberg’s writeup:

  • “Just 1 in 4 Americans are confident that the higher education system is doing enough to address the need for career-long learning and retraining.”
  • “Tuition costs are the biggest deterrent, followed by academic programs that aren’t keeping up with an evolving workplace environment, according to the survey.”

These findings underline the importance of The Manufacturing Institute’s mission and the new Creators Wanted Fund that will support significant programming in 2020 to improve industry perceptions as well as expand the Institute’s efforts.

First, too many young people have the wrong image of manufacturing. Many still envision the same sort of factories their grandfathers worked in, instead of the high-tech, stimulating environment it is today. Brookings’ results suggest that manufacturers must do better at showing young people how manufacturing is leading the 21st-century economy—a key mission of the Institute.

Meanwhile, Americans are right to worry that our educational system isn’t prepared for technological change, which will create opportunities as much as disruptions. That’s why the Institute is fundraising for its new $10 million Creators Wanted Fund, which will enable it to increase participation in apprenticeships and other educational programs by 25 percent through 2025. Learn more about the fund and related programming by contacting NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas.


The Council of Industry has its own solution, the NYS Registered Apprentice Program is available to individuals with tactical skills and math aptitude. This apprenticeship has two basic elements. The first, On-the-Job Training (OJT), consists of a journey-level, craft person capable and willing to share their experience with an apprentice, in a hands-on manner. The second, Related Instruction (RI), consists of learning more theoretical or knowledge-based aspects of a craft. Applicants must be 18 years or older, eligible to work in the United States and possess a superior work ethic. To be a registered apprentice, an individual must be employed by a participating employer. The apprentice is required to complete a minimum of 18 months up to 4 years of on-the-job training (depending on the position) and 144 hours or required related instruction per year. For more information visit our website or contact Johnnieanne Hansen at or call (845) 565 – 1355.

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Future Manufacturers in the Making


It seems our efforts to share manufacturing career opportunities are beginning to bear fruit. From articles in HV Mfg magazine to the website and its videos highlighting people working in manufacturing to our support of the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy and more educators from across the region are increasingly turning to us to help them connect with the manufacturing sector and the great careers we have.

At schools throughout the Hudson Valley students are increasingly being exposed to the amazing career choices available to them through the manufacturing sector. Council of Industry member companies have been at career fairs and featured prominently in the end of year presentations made at the PTech Program.

Ulster BOCES Hudson Valley Pathways Academy students presented their final projects of the year to an audience of educators, industry leaders, and family members on May 29 at the Ulster BOCES Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning at Anna Devine. The young scholars demonstrated the work they did this past year which included several projects with Council of Industry member companies. The students also reviewed their positive growth and chose a word that described what their hopes were for the year. Positivity, self-confidence, and persistence were popular themes among many of the students. Congratulations to all on a very successful year!

On June 4, the Cornwall Central Middle School hosted a great career exploration event. The students were engaged with a diverse field of employers. The Council of Industry was well represented by members Ametek Rotron and Global Foundries, both of which demonstrated a variety of career paths available in manufacturing.

At the end of May, Valley Central High School hosted a job fair that included Council member Mechanical Rubber Products. This was a schoolwide event that included not only potential career opportunities but summer job offerings too.

There is ever increasing interest in the career paths available in the industrial sector nationwide. The Council of Industry has made it a priority to connect manufacturers with the local schools in an effort to promote the fantastic job opportunities available in manufacturing and various ways to navigate the journey. There is something there for every type of student. If your company would like to be a part of future events contact us.

For more information for students on careers in manufacturing click here

Some videos about manufacturing careers from around the Hudson Valley:

This is Manufacturing

GMI Tool and Die Maker

Meet Mike – Engineering Tech at eMagin

Go Make It YouTube Channel

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Your March 2019 Empire State Manufacturing Survey Results


The results for the March 2019 Empire State Manufacturing Survey suggest that business activity grew only slightly in the last month.  

The headline general business conditions index fell five points to 3.7. New orders increased only marginally, while shipments grew modestly. Delivery times and inventories held steady. Labor market indicators pointed to an increase in employment, but a small decline in hours worked. The prices paid index moved higher for the first time in four months, pointing to a pickup in input price increases, while the prices received index moved lower, indicating a slowing in selling price increases.

Firms continue to be optimistic in their six-month outlooks, however optimism was slightly lower than last month.

The index for future business conditions edged down three points to 29.6. The indexes for future new orders and shipments were also somewhat below last month’s levels. Firms expected solid increases in employment and hours worked in the months ahead. The capital expenditures index was little changed at 28.3, and the technology spending index came in at 20.3.

Read the full report for a more detailed look at the results. 

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The Blue-Collar Drought


Many people believed that robots and machines would one day take over blue-collar jobs, however, it’s actually resulted in the exact opposite. Artificial intelligence, robotics and the internet have only created more jobs. Blue-collar Industries still need workers to make sure those robots are designed, built, maintained and run efficiently.

However, today’s candidate-driven job market is falling short on delivering the blue-collar workers that many industries need.  Unemployment continues to fall, as well as the number of workers entering the blue-collar sector. By 2028 its expected that there could be as many as 2.4 million unfilled manufacturing jobs, which could result in an estimated $2.5 trillion negative economic impact on the US.

The amount of job openings in manufacturing is increasing each year, and the percentage of workers in manufacturing positions has fallen to less than 13 percent of the labor force. There are variety of causes to this shortage. Many people believe that the term “blue-collar worker” now has a negative connotation. People associate blue-collar jobs with difficult, dirty work, and it’s discouraging people from applying. The use of “skilled trades worker” or “technical careerist” is being recommended instead.

Another contributing factor to this issue is the increasing number of students getting four-year college degrees after high school. Enrollment rates continue to go up each year, reaching 20 million in 2015. This is likely due to parent’s perception of blue-collar jobs and the mind-set that college will lead to a better life. Yet many students leave college with substantial debt and enter the workforce with low-paying jobs. A college degree no longer guarantees a secure or well-paying job like it once did.

“Overseas, countries are promoting and capitalizing on skills training, while we [in the U.S.] started promoting college degrees. That’s what we put in front of our kids every day. That’s what they see on TV. Overseas they said, ‘Hey we’re going to gain on the U.S. by teaching manufacturing.”

Many people also don’t fully understand the benefits of a blue-collar job. There is a misconception that they’re low-paying jobs that require a low skill level. However, many of these jobs require less than a college degree but pay more than some professional “white-collar” positions.

The nationwide skills-gap is another obstacle that gets repeatedly discussed. Vocational education programs are disappearing in high schools, and many companies aren’t willing to invest in programs that can help develop skills in young-employees. Many manufacturing companies want and need employees with up to 5 years of past experience, but that’s increasingly rare to find.

However, even with all of this there are many positive initiatives being put into place across the county that are helping to promote these jobs. Many high schools are beginning to invest more heavily in STEM programs and trade-skills training. Companies are putting apprentice programs into place to help develop vocational skills internally. By opening up these apprenticeships to high school students they’re also exposing young adults to the manufacturing industry early and helping to prevents those stigmas from ever being formed.

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) is involved in apprenticeship and skilled-trade training programs to help build the future workforce. And in the summer of 2018 the President also signed an executive order designed to better align government training programs and retaining older workers without college degrees. All of these efforts together are working to close the skills-gap and eliminate misconceptions about blue-collar workers.

 The Council of Industry is also making efforts to combat the skills-gap right here in the Hudson Valley with their NYS Registered Apprentice Program. The program consists of both related instruction and on-the-job training. It typically takes about four years to complete the program, and there are currently 6 registered trades to choose from: Machinist (CNC), Electro-Mechanical Technician, Maintenance Mechanic, Quality Assurance Auditor, Toolmaker, and Industrial Manufacturing Technician. If you’re a manufacturing employer or a potential apprentice click here for more information, or contact Johnnieanne Hansen at or (845) 565-1355 to discuss details, requirements and potential opportunities.

For more information read the full article here.  

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2019’s First Empire State Manufacturing Survey


January’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey results are showing slight growth, which is a promising start to 2019! Similar to last month though, growth is increasing at a much slower pace than previously.

Business activity grew slightly in New York State, according to firms responding to the January 2019 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index fell eight points to 3.9, its lowest level in well over a year. New orders increased at a slower pace than in recent months, while shipments continued to climb significantly. Delivery times were slightly shorter, and inventories declined. Labor market indicators pointed to a modest increase in employment and hours worked. The prices paid index moved lower for a second consecutive month, indicating some slowing in input price increases, and the prices received index held steady.

We ended 2018 on a high note and responding manufacturers are still remaining fairly optimistic about the six-month outlook.

Read the full report for a more detailed look at the results.

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2018’s Final Empire State Manufacturing Survey

Federal Reserve


The results from the last Empire State Manufacturing Survey of 2018 are in! New York Manufacturers are remaining optimistic about 2019 but they are slightly more tempered than in November.

Business activity grew at a slower pace than in recent months in New York State, according to firms responding to the December 2018 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index fell twelve points to 10.9. New orders increased modestly, while shipments continued to climb significantly. Delivery times lengthened slightly, and inventories moved higher. The employment index rose twelve points to 26.1, indicating that employment grew strongly, and hours worked increased modestly. The prices paid index, while still elevated, moved down five points, and the prices received index held steady. Looking ahead, firms remained fairly optimistic about the six-month outlook.

Each January the survey goes through revisions to prepare for the upcoming year. All data undergoes a benchmark revision in December to reflect new seasonal factors. The diffusion indexes are each tested for seasonality and adjusted accordingly if patterns are found.

2019 will most definitely be an interesting year for the manufacturing industry. The exponential growth in technology and innovation will undoubtably have an impact on the industry. We look forward to finding out what’s in store.

Read the full report for a more detailed look at the results.

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Empire State Manufacturing Survey: Another Consistent Month


Each month the Council of Industry writes a blog post discussing the results of the Empire State Manufacturing Survey, and since the start of 2018 each post has reported consistent growth for the industry. This month is no exception to that trend. Business activity grew strongly this month and the headline general business conditions index rose two points to 21.1, which suggests faster growth than in September. New orders and shipments also spiked considerably. Additionally, this month saw a slight increase in employment levels; a positive sign for many manufacturing companies that are struggling to find skilled workers to fill their open positions. Employment is expected to increase in the months to come as well. Predictions for the future also remain positive. New York State’s manufacturers are anticipating continued growth throughout the next six months.  Look for our post next month with the results of the November survey to see if this upward trend continues!

Read the full report for a more detailed look at the results.

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New York Manufacturers Report Solid Growth

Federal Reserve


The results for the September 2018 Empire State Manufacturing Survey are in, and once again firms are reporting solid growth. The industry has remained relatively steady throughout recent years, and firms are remaining optimistic about their six-month outlook. The survey indicates that new orders and shipments are up, and the labor market pointed to an increase in employment levels.

The headline general business conditions index showed ongoing strength, but moved down seven points to 19.0, pointing to a slower pace of growth than last month. New orders and shipments grew moderately. Delivery times continued to lengthen, and inventories moved higher. Labor market indicators pointed to an increase in employment levels and longer workweeks. Price indexes were little changed and remained elevated, suggesting ongoing significant increases in both input prices and selling prices. Looking ahead, firms remained fairly optimistic about the six-month outlook.

Read the full report for a more detailed look at the results.

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New York Manufactures Forecast Continued Growth

Federal Reserve

Each month the Federal Reserve Bank of New York distributes the Empire State Manufacturing Survey to about 200 manufacturing companies throughout New York State to analyze industry performance. Around 100 of the 200 companies contacted complete the questionnaire, which asks them to report on specific performance indicators and offer their projections for the upcoming months. The respondents are from diverse sectors of the manufacturing industry, providing an unbiased and accurate pool of feedback. Since the start of 2016 these surveys have generated consistently positive results.

The July 2018 results indicate that business activity continues to grow at a steady pace throughout the state. Labor market indicators point to sturdy growth, and the prices received index signals continued moderate increases in selling prices. The headline general business conditions index also still remains at a high level. These results are promising, and the positive forecasts coming from these companies suggest that robust growth is likely in store for the near future.

You can see the full report with survey results here.

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Manufacturing Jobs, One Towns Story

Heard on Morning Edition

January 12, 2012 – STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Manufacturing employment in this country is expanding. In fact, the labor department says that in 2011, more manufacturing jobs were added than in any year since the 1990s. Still, manufacturing employment is not what it was, as will be apparent, when we look more closely in the coming days, at South Carolina, a manufacturing state which is holding its presidential primary later this month.

South Carolina’s unemployment rate is 9.9 percent – considerably higher than the national average. You can see a transformation in South Carolina in old factory towns. New plants have sprung up, but workers there will tell you they’re a world apart from the old ones. As part of a story co-reported with the Atlantic Magazine, Adam Davidson of NPR’s Planet Money team visited Greenville, South Carolina, to see the transformation of manufacturing up close.

ADAM DAVIDSON, BYLINE: Greenville County, South Carolina is where manufacturing’s past and future live side-by-side. I don’t mean that in some metaphorical way. I mean, it is a visible fact. There are abandoned textile mills everywhere you look.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Unintelligible)

DAVIDSON: I’m riding around in a squad car with Deputy Sheriff Mike East and his boss, Sheriff Scott Wilson, who took me on a tour of Greenville’s past.

There are so many mills. They’re hiding behind other mills.

SHERIFF SCOTT WILSON: There’s a mill behind every blade of grass.

DAVIDSON: Ten to fifteen years ago, life in Greenville was organized around these mills. Each mill had its own village, its own church, its own bar. These places were abandoned over the last decade or so as mill after mill went out of business. What’s left are deeply depressed near ghost-towns. But sometimes, amid the stretches of shuttered buildings, you can find a living relic.

WILSON: Now, here’s a lively redneck bar, Christine’s Place.

DAVIDSON: Christine’s sign reads, Come to the holler for a cold swaller(ph). You could also come to Christine’s for a fist-fight or if you wanted to be shot at. Sherriff Wilson had an unsettling number of fight stories from Christine’s. When the cops left, I decided I had to go inside, but I was really scared.

But instantly when I walked in I felt like a fool for being scared. Those fight stories are all very old. The room now is empty, except there are a few white-haired regulars nursing drinks at the bar. They told me about the old Greenville, when the economy was booming. Christine’s was packed morning, noon, and night, before and after every one of the three shifts at the nearby mill. Trucks would speed in and out of the factory gates nearby.

TERRY LEE SUTTLES: You made more money. You could just make money. And it was good money.

DAVIDSON: That’s Terry Lee Suttles, the bar’s owner.

SUTTLES: Everybody knowed somebody that worked in the mill, and usually they was hiring. And if you had a friend, you could always get in, you know. I wasn’t really old enough to work, but I went to work.

DAVIDSON: Like 16 or younger?

SUTTLES: Oh, I was about 16.

DAVIDSON: Did you drop out of high school?


DAVIDSON: Which everyone did around here, right?


DAVIDSON: And this is the key fact. This is what made life in the old Greenville so rewarding. People with minimal education could work in a factory and support a lifestyle that their grandparents could only dream of. And the people here – they knew it.

WAYNE STATEN: We’ve had a good life.

LARRY HALE: We’ve had a fantasy life.



DAVIDSON: A fantasy life?

Wayne Staten and Larry Hale worked in the old Greenville. They drove trucks that took the mill products all over the continent.

HALE: Yeah we’ve done things that a lot of people dream of doing, that never ever have a chance of doing.

DAVIDSON: Like what?

HALE: Like when I went to Canada and I started dating this hairstylist up in Canada, wanted to marry me. And down in Mexico, the things I done. And when I lived in Houston, Texas. We lived a fantasy life. We lived our lives to the fullest. You got to cherish everything that’s out in front of you. You got to grasp it and love it; and if you don’t, you’re losing out. Love everything.

STATEN: Well, I wouldn’t say everything, Larry.

HALE: Yeah. OK. I agree with you there.


DAVIDSON: Compare this fantasy life to the present. There are still factories in Greenville – they’re open and working, and they employ people, although now you have to have a high school degree, usually, to get a job. And as I found out, the workers now feel a lot less certain about their job prospects. For example, I visited the factory floor of Standard Motor Products.


DAVIDSON: They make replacement parts for car engines. I thought this would involve big, noisy machines stamping out parts and spewing oil. Instead, I saw very nice, high tech machines and not that many workers who were hunched over microscopes or working on computer programmed machinery. It looked more like a science lab than an assembly line.

Madeline “Maddie” Parlier operates one of the machines on the floor. She doesn’t have a college degree, and she doesn’t need one to operate this machine. It runs with a push of a button. But she remembers a time when factory work wasn’t quite so automated. In her old job at a kayak-building factory, she used to work up a sweat.

MADELINE PARLIER: You know, I’m here all day and I’m used to sweatin,’ I mean really sweatin’. You know, I come here and I’m putting pieces and I’m like, what am I doing?


DAVIDSON: ‘Cause it’s so many machines doing what people…

PARLIER: Right, it’s so different. To see how far factories have come from the old time that I’m used to, it’s an eye-opener.

DAVIDSON: Machines do so much more of the work in today’s factory. And the machines have bred a new kind of factory worker, workers like Ralph Young, who doesn’t just have to push a button.

RALPH YOUNG: And we have a microscope, a hot stand, snap gauges, ID gauges, we use bore mites, go-no-go plugs…

DAVIDSON: Ralph is the future of manufacturing. He’s acquired the knowledge and skills to adapt to the new technology on the factory floor. But for Maddie and many millions of others, the pace of change has been bewildering. She is still adjusting, and she will have to keep adjusting as the machines grow more sophisticated and the work less physical. The question is, can Maddie, and the 11 million or so other manufacturing workers in the U.S. keep up?

Tomorrow, when our series continues, we’ll look at the changing skills of the modern-day factory worker, and how they affect the job prospects of workers like Maddie.

Adam Davidson, NPR News.

INSKEEP: You can find the magazine version of Adam’s story on news stands or at the


INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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