You may have missed it, but last week, the second week in May, was Michigan Manufacturing Week. Former Governor John Engler was quoted recently saying that Michigan manufacturing is “on the mend,” and it seems to be the consensus of business experts and economists that Michigan, so long in recession, is making strides towards growth and improvement. Manufacturing has added jobs in state for the third year in a row. In 2013 alone 13,084 jobs were added. Currently there are more than 662,000 people working in manufacturing in Michigan in 14,194 manufacturing businesses across the state. These people make cars, seating, shoes, lasers, fabrics, paper, office furniture, furnaces, and, yes, industrial parts washers.
While this is good news for the people in Michigan in need of jobs now, it’s good news for the state and business in general for the future. Unlike in the past when much of manufacturing was line work, many of these new manufacturing jobs are in high tech areas. Earlier this year Jay Baron, President and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research said in an interview, “In Michigan we have a fairly high unemployment rate, yet there are a lot of for-hire signs at these companies,” he said. “They need technical-skilled people; technicians who can fix machines when they break down, computer programmers and other sorts of positions.” For specific skill sets, there is a lot of demand from manufacturers.
In the long term, those technical jobs will generate more revenue and will be largely immune to the forces that pulled jobs out of Michigan over the last decades. The research and development sectors of these businesses will create more work over time with the discoveries they make. These discoveries have the potential to change all of our lives for the better. New energy options, more efficient heating and cooling, environmental and industrial clean up, new medical treatments and drug options, faster and safer transportation – researchers and manufacturers will be the ones to provide us with safer, cleaner, and cheaper ways to solve the problems in our lives.
It’s a given that the future will not look the same as our industrial past, and the opportunities will not be the same, but for those of us willing to change and innovate, the future for Michigan looks brighter than it has in a long while.
By: Ryan Westphal