This article originally appeared on our sister brand, Products Finishing. For more of Matthew Kirchner’s leadership advice, visit pfonline.com.
The pandemic has been so hard on so many. Lives lost and life plans, classrooms and places of business completely upended, an unprecedented mental health crisis, a global supply chain in chaos, and the list goes on. As devastating as the last two-plus years have been, the period has not been without its silver linings.
One of them is that the rest of the world now knows what those of us in the manufacturing sector have known all along: the incredible importance of U.S. manufacturing to the overall economy. When consumers can get what they want, when they want it at a price that seems reasonable it’s quite easy for them to take manufacturing for granted. When their ability to do so is restrained by a dysfunctional supply chain, suddenly they begin to realize the incredible difference that manufacturing and a well-oiled supply chain make in their lives.
Imagine waking one morning to an economy without U.S. manufacturing: $2.4 trillion in annual gross domestic product vanished without a trace and, along with it, more than 12 million careers in the manufacturing sector. Those 12 million careers that, by recent numbers, paid more than $83,000 per year on average — more that 57% higher than the annual compensation provided by the average non-farm business job.
Manufacturers engage attorneys, accountants and consultants to support their businesses. They invest in software to manage their finances, operate their plants and maintain relationships with customers. They build buildings, pave their parking lots, maintain their properties. And they pay taxes and fees. A lot of them — federal income taxes, state income taxes, employment taxes, infrastructure assessments, permitting fees and the list goes on.
They purchase or build their homes and rent their apartments and then heat them, cool them, maintain them and improve them. They invest in vehicles. They travel, consume entertainment, purchase groceries and dine out. They shop to their heart’s content — online, in shopping malls and at the corner drug store. They pay interest on mortgages, buy insurance and utilize mobile phone, WiFi and streaming services. Birthday presents, car repairs, haircuts. And they pay taxes along with sewer, water and trash fees.
Setting aside for the moment the economic impact of manufacturing, manufactured products are fundamental to our very way of life. The building materials that comprise our homes and the furniture, technology, appliances, devices and fixtures inside them — none exist without manufacturing. Nor do our vehicles, tools or offices. Virtually everything humanity holds or uses owes its existence to our sector.
Moreover, this disruption accentuates the need to move manufacturing closer and closer to the point of consumption. Really good news for U.S. manufacturing.