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U.S. Rebounds as Manufacturing Jobs Return, But There’s Still a Long Way to Go

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As production costs and energy prices rise overseas, the U.S. is looking more attractive to companies looking for low-cost areas to manufacture goods. Top manufacturers such as Caterpillar, GE and Ford, which led the way towards moving manufacturing overseas, are once again considering the U.S. for new manufacturing facilities. This growth in U.S. manufacturing jobs is largely fueled by the natural gas boom brought about by better technologies for harvesting domestic natural gas reserves.

Since January 2010, 520,000 new manufacturing jobs have opened up in the U.S., bringing the total to 12 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, there is still a lot of ground to make up. According to a 2012 report by Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the country lost more manufacturing jobs in the last decade than during the entire Great Depression.

A total of 5.7 million U.S. manufacturing jobs disappeared during this time, equaling 1,276 jobs every day for the past 12 years. Now, more people are unemployed in this country than there are total manufacturing jobs. 12.8 million people are unemployed compared to the 12 million manufacturing jobs in existence.

The National Association of Manufacturers has released their list of top states for manufacturing job creation from December 2009 to March 2013. Michigan, Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Washington, and Illinois topped the list. Across the U.S., ship repair, high-tech manufacturing, aircraft manufacturing, electronics, and computer manufacturing are still strong. Foreign automakers choosing to locate facilities in the U.S. opens even more job opportunities here.

States with the highest percentages of employment in manufacturing are Indiana at 16.4 percent, Wisconsin at 16.1 percent, Arkansas at 13.6 percent, Michigan at 12.8 percent and Alabama at 12.7 percent. States with the fewest percentage of manufacturing workers are Hawaii, Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico, and Montana.

Other top manufacturing industries in the U.S. include toys, plastics, food, liquor, machinery, piping, chemicals, oils, and gas. According to Tony Cherin of San Diego State University, the shift in U.S. industry is toward service and information and away from manufacturing. Manufacturing may never be as huge here as it once was.

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