PF Blog

Giving Thanks

By: Bill Wood, MoldMaking Technology's Economics Editor
23. November 2012

It is the week of Thanksgiving, so I thought I would share a few things for which I am thankful.

One thing for which I am thankful is the US manufacturing sector. This is the best way we have in this country to create wealth and prosperity. Not so long ago, the manufacturing sector accounted for 20% of our nation’s GDP. During that time, median household income rose steadily. It was easy to believe that subsequent generations of Americans would be better off than the previous generations.

But somewhere we lost our way. Manufacturing now accounts for only about 12% of our nation’s GDP, and this decline has corresponded with a steady decrease in median household income. The average household in America now makes the same amount of money as it did in 1990, and the trend is headed in the wrong direction. Household income levels have declined for four consecutive years. If we ever hope to get back to a time when household incomes enjoy steady and sustained increases, then we need to start manufacturing more things.

I am also thankful for magazines such as Moldmaking Technology, Plastics Technology, Modern Machine Shop, and also their respective websites and blogs. One of the biggest factors constraining our manufacturing sector is a shortage of skilled labor. The skills gap, as it is called, is a complicated and long-term problem, but these magazines and blogs are an important part of the solution. If you think about it, their only real purpose is to make manufacturers more productive. They have been accomplishing this mission for a very long time, and in my opinion nobody does it better.

So we may need to invest more time and money into our community colleges and our high school industrial arts programs in order to entice more young people into entering the manufacturing sector for career. But for people who are already in the industry, one of the best ways I know to stay abreast of the rapidly changing products and ideas in the plastics and metalworking sectors is to read regularly these types of publications and websites. That is what I call work force development.

And finally, I am thankful for thoughtful consumers and citizens. For far too long now, we have been brainwashed into thinking that cheaper is always better when it comes to the things we buy. Unfortunately, the price of a product or service does not always capture all of the social costs incurred by the production and consumption of that product. Many times these costs are passed on for some other unnamed parties to pay at some other unspecified time. People in the manufacturing sector have learned the hard way that everyday low prices do not always increase value or prosperity for America.

So those are the things for which I am thankful this year. I am hopeful that next year I can add "competent policymakers in Washington" to my list.

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