Thursday, April 11, 2013

Questioning the Manufacturing Renaissance, Sort Of

Today brings a view from another point of view, sort of.

Dean Barber wrote on Sunday in his weekly blog under the title Is a Manufacturing Renaissance Real or Hype?  Dean's title and his first few paragraphs raise  questions about the validity of the U.S. manufacturing renaissance many have touted, including me.

He quotes the WSJ, “The idea that American manufacturing is on the cusp of a renaissance is everywhere these days – except in the hard numbers.”  He cites other stats showing the concept of U.S. manufacturing reshoring, in particular, may be over hyped.

Then he shifts gears, citing innovation and framing the future of what manufacturing could look like.  He notes automation and innovation mean less jobs in manufacturing, even if the "renaissance" brings back some domestically-consumed products for domestic production.  He cites the rise in imports we continue to see in the U.S. while also citing the hard numbers that show U.S. manufacturing remains an important sector.

In the end, Dean doesn't answer the question his blog's title asks.  However, he does make a statement about what sort of renaissance he would like to see and that's a statement upon which we can agree:

"As long as we can remain an innovation nation, we will stand a better chance for a revival, not just in manufacturing but in our hollowed-out middle class. That’s the renaissance that I am hoping for, a dignity restored to and wealth creation for the middle class. Manufacturing lends itself to that."

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