IRVINE, CA-After more than a decade of steadily declining numbers, the high-tech manufacturing sector nationwide is beginning to add jobs again. According to a report from Jones Lang LaSalle, experts expect to see a reversal in the trend that saw a reduction in US manufacturing operations and a shift offshore, particularly in labor-intensive operations.
The double blow of the Great Recession and fierce competition from low-cost labor countries, the industry is finally seeing some stabilization, the report says. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and Alix Partners predict that manufacturing employment should see positive net growth—albeit slight, only 0.7%–between 2013 and 2018. And while this growth isn’t earthshattering, it does signify an end to the bleeding the sector has endured for far too long.
The main reason for this growth is a sea change in the way manufacturing is being handled by companies, JLL’s report says. Companies are now seeking a balanced and more regionalized approach to manufacturing, where capital and labor are strategically deployed to leverage the inherent benefits of different countries.
In fact, we may be at the beginning of an upswing that sees the US reclaim some of the global share lost to China and Mexico in the world of high-tech manufacturing. With China in particular experiencing wage inflation and workers there demanding higher pay, Asian labor isn’t as cheap as it once was, and this wage inflation is expected to continue. Labor costs in the US that were 23 times that of China in 2000 are now approximately only 8 times that amount, and the gap is continuing to narrow, JLL reports.
In addition, the rising cost of fuel is making offshore manufacturing a less cost-effective means of production. This factor adds to the desirability of keeping labor in the US.
As GlobeSt.com reported last week, the total number of nonfarm jobs in the county has risen for the third straight month with a .2% increase in April over March’s numbers, according to JLL. In addition, the area’s unemployment rate continues to tighten, down .6% from 6.3% in March to 5.7% last month.
Stay tuned to the Orange County page as GlobeSt.com explores more reasons for the increase in high-tech manufacturing jobs across the US.