Dec 032012

A couple of weeks ago, AJ Sweat posted his article entitled Guess What, Kids? You Don’t Really Want A Job In Manufacturing, which is AJ’s analysis of CNN’s Best Jobs in America.  His lament is obvious – apparently manufacturing was not considered in this list, or it was, and it just was not desirable.    This article drew me like a moth to a flame for two reasons.  First, I love data!  Maybe it makes me think of happy days, rushing to the U.S. News rankings as a college student to see how my school fared,  but I am really susceptible to a list, even based on pseudo subjective data.  Second, it was a about manufacturing,

CNN used the following criteria to judge the desirability of a job.

  • personal satisfaction
  • low stress
  • benefit to society
  • flexibility

In AJ’s opinoin, only one job on the CNN list is related to manufacturing.  I thought, “surely this cannot be true!”  So, I’ve done my own analysis.  Here is my criteria.  First, I considered manufacturing fairly broadly.  If you developed and made a physical product, be it cars, computers, or a cancer drug, you are part of “manufacturing” in my opinion.  Second, I consider software development to be a form of design and manufacturing, even though it is not physical.  I binned the 100 CNN ‘best’ jobs into four categories:

  1. Direct Manufacturing Relation – someone who is on the manufacturing floor be it manufacturing, assembling, managing (a foreman), or direct support (e.g. manufacturing engineering)
  2. Product Value Chain – these jobs are not on the manufacturing floor but are in the direct chain from when a  product is just a twinkle in the eye until the start of manufacturing.  This category also includes jobs between manufacturing and the distributer or end customer.  Examples would be engineers, software developers, purchasing, or direct sales.
  3. Corporate Support Function – other typical jobs in a product and manufacturing company (e.g. IT, HR, accounting, marketing, finance, etc.) that are not part of the product value chain.
  4. Non-Manufacturing – Everyone else.  FYI, this is where I put almost all the consulting jobs on the list.

Here are my results:

Lack of good manufacturing jobs Hiller Associates

Click image to ENLARGE the graph!

I am forced to agree with AJ, sadly.  I can only find ONE direct manufacturing job, but I find more in the Product Value Chain than he did.  Even adding these, we only have 19 jobs – less than 20% of the CNN Top 100 jobs list.

The should be extremely concerning to the success of America in the future, if it is indeed true that these are the jobs people will be seeking.  According to Manufacturing Executive, the 17 million people who are in manufacturing companies in the US produce $1.7 trillion of GDP (11.7%).  Manufacturing also funds two-thirds of private research.  So 5.6% of the US population produces 11.7% of the output.   The people in manufacturing are TWICE as productive as the average person, in terms of the GDP they produce for the US.

I’d like to leave you with Hiller’s three manufacturing maxims, that I hope to explore in further articles:

  1. Services exists to service manufacturing; manufacturing does not exist to service services.
  2. Real value is created by growing something, mining something, or manufacturing something.
  3. Manufacturing and technological superiority are what make and keep a nation a superpower.

America needs to internalize these maxims.  It needs to stop just talking about helping manufacturing in Presidential commissions and initiatives and start DOING something to realign the focus of America where it should be:  design and manufacturing.


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