Lance Rake is Professor of Industrial Design at the University of Kansas and the creative force behind “The Semester Bicycle,” a sleek and durable bike made of bamboo grown just three blocks from an assembly shop in Greensboro, Alabama. He’s collaborating with community development organizations in Greensboro to create more than an innovative bike, but a new manufacturing model to pull a town in an economic standstill back into the race.
As federal lawmakers grapple with tighter gun control laws, business is good for the firearms industry.Across the country, gun dealers can’t keep them on the shelves, and manufacturers can’t keep up with demand. But how do these trends affect New Hampshire's economy?
Mitt Romney and President Obama frequently remind us, jobs and the economy are the issues of the 2012 presidential race. The loss of an estimated 3 million manufacturing since 2000 has carved a deep hole in the American economy. Many manufacturing jobs have gone overseas, taking a toll on the middle class wages that once anchored the American economy.
The New Hampshire Department of Education says that in the past decade there has been a 6 percent increase in the number of high school graduates continuing on to college, but also a five percent increase in the number of high schoolers leaving the state for college.
Nationally, there are about 600,000 unfilled factory jobs. But despite high unemployment, these jobs are proving all-but-impossible to fill, even in New Hampshire. For one thing, most people don’t have the skills. And many companies are handing over the training, and cost, of potential new workers to community colleges. But that still doesn’t guarantee it will lead to new hires.
Although tourism is something of a signature industry for New Hampshire, the largest sector of the state’s economy–by far–is advanced manufacturing. So-called “SMHT” (Smart Manufacturing/High Technology).
Workers build cars on the assembly line at the Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., in December. As auto sales boom, parts suppliers are having a tough time finding the labor they need to catch up, having lost workers during the recession.
Detroit automakers are creating thousands of new jobs amid a sales boom. And as they expand, their suppliers are racing to keep up, adding tens of thousands of new jobs.
At Bridgewater Interiors in Warren, Mich., for example, the pace is intense. Hundreds of union employees scurry to fill a growing list of orders. The factory floor is packed with stacks of foam cushions, seat covers and headrests.
Credit Jackson Forderer for Minnesota Public Radio
AGCO employees work on the assembly line in the company's newly expanded Jackson, Minn., manufacturing plant. The expansion brought the facility's staff from 850 to 1,050 workers and allows the plant to make tractors that were previously made in France.
Credit Annie Baxter for NPR
Richard Beaulieu operates a molding machine that makes rubber parts for radiators at Hiawatha Rubber Co., just outside Minneapolis.
A welder at Specialty Fab in North Lima, Ohio, works March 1 on a piece of a compressor skid frame that is bound for the Ohio Shale project. Manufacturing companies such as Specialty Fab could receive tax breaks if a proposal from the Obama administration goes through.
Credit Anne Shybunko / Courtsey of GSE Dynamics
An employee at GSE Dynamics, a small manufacturing company that makes parts for the Navy and Air Force.
The White House says restoring the U.S. manufacturing sector is an essential part of getting the economy back on track.
GOP candidate Rick Santorum wants to see tax breaks for manufacturing companies, and the Obama administration proposed something similar last week. But economists say tax breaks may not be the best way to help manufacturers right now.
Over the years, the steady loss of good factory jobs is a big reason why wages have stagnated for people who never went to college, says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.