According to a new report published by the Federal Reserve, American manufacturing output experienced positive gains for the sixth consecutive month, reaching the industry’s highest level since 2008.
This growth is important because it reflects the country’s economy as a whole. The United States is the world’s second largest manufacturer, with a 2010 reported output of $1,696.7 billion. It employs millions of Americans, many of whom work in sub-sectors such as petroleum, steel, automobiles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, food processing, lumber, mining, consumer goods, etc.
Like all industries, however, American manufacturing has experienced its fair share of ups and downs. In 2004, the industry took a major hit, with reports indicating that only 14.3 million manufacturing jobs were available, which was about 3 million fewer than previously. In recent years, American manufacturing has regained its lost momentum, continuing to grow with a positive output as defined by the recent Federal Reserve report.
“Industrial production was unchanged in February following a 0.1 percent decrease in January. In February, manufacturing output moved up 0.5 percent for its sixth consecutive monthly increase. Mining output jumped 2.7 percent, but the index for utilities fell 5.7 percent, as continued unseasonably warm weather further reduced demand for heating. At 104.7 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production in February was 0.3 percent above its level of a year earlier,” wrote the Federal Reserve in its report.
Another positive note is the President’s recent focus on bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States. He’s vowed to offer tax breaks and other incentives for manufacturers who build here in the United States. Perhaps the President’s expressed interest in manufacturing will help strengthen the market even further, allowing it to grow for an additional six consecutive months.
Of course, it’s not all good news. Some analysts believe the American manufacturing industry could experience a decline in the following months or years, due in part to automation. As explained by Business Insider, some shoe companies, for instance, are using machines to automate jobs that were once performed by human workers. Granted, the increasing use of automation in the workplace isn’t limited strictly to manufacturing; it applies to nearly all industries and markets.
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