Manufacturing in our region, really?

Saying “we make it here” is an understatement. For a relatively small community, we manufacture a lot. The interesting thing is that we are generally unaware of our manufacturing power. I’ll be the first to admit that I am continuously surprised to learn about some of the different things that we make here.

Over the years we have heard about an exodus of manufacturing companies. Many of which have sought increased competitiveness through lower operating costs in other countries. But despite this trend, our region has experienced a growth in manufacturing. Take for instance: ship and boat building, nonmetallic mineral products, and computer and electronic products. These are sectors that are growing in our region at an incredible pace – in some instances as high as 67%.

Here are five reasons why we should keep an eye on local manufacturing:

1. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.40 is added to the economy. That is the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.

2. In 2015, the average manufacturing worker in Flagler and Volusia counties earned $60,534 annually, including benefits. The average worker in all industries earned $43,534. Looking specifically at wages, the average manufacturing worker earned $23.17 per hour, according to the latest figures, not including benefits.

3. Manufacturers have experienced tremendous growth over the past few decades, making them more “lean” and helping them become more competitive globally. Output per hour for all workers in the manufacturing sector has increased by more than 2.5 times since 1987. In contrast, productivity is roughly 1.7 times greater for all nonfarm businesses. Note that durable goods manufacturers have seen even greater growth, almost tripling their labor productivity over that timeframe.

4. Over the next decade, nearly 11,000 manufacturing jobs will likely be needed in Flagler and Volusia counties, and 46% are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap. Moreover, according to a recent report, 80 percent of manufacturers report a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly skilled production positions.

5. Exports support higher-paying jobs for an increasingly educated and diverse workforce. Jobs supported by exports pay, on average, 18 percent more than other jobs. Employees in the most trade-intensive industries earn an average compensation of nearly $72,000, or 56 percent more than those in manufacturing companies that were less engaged in trade. What’s great is that we have a significant pool of international business students in the area (think of our local universities) who are willing to stay and work for manufacturing firms developing new foreign markets.