Williams reminds us: Manufacturing productivity has doubled in 25 years

… and in 2011 manufacturing increased 11 percent from 2010. But you thought all of the manufacturing was leaving the United States?

Walter Williams’ column today reveals to liberals – if they take a few minutes to read the post – that manufacturing growth continues to be strong in America. Manufacturing has not only grown, it’s gotten much more productive which means we can produce more with fewer employees involved in manufacturing.

Unions of course, don’t like this one bit. But I ask you this. If manufacturing innovations allow a company you own to create more products for your customer, while providing the same or better quality at the same or lower price with fewer employees. What would you do? Williams asks if the government should step in and halt or slow those innovations. I’d argue they are actively doing that right now.

To be clear, I’m all for making things in America, and we do. But if we continue to make the United States a less favorable place to do business as compared to other countries, what can we expect in the future? As usual, people will vote with their pocket books. If you can buy a product offered by an off-shore company with the same quality and level of service at a price 40 percent lower than a Made in the USA product, what would you buy?

From Williams

For the most part, rising worker productivity and advances in technology are the primary causes of reduced employment and higher output in the manufacturing, agriculture and telecommunications industries. My question is whether Congress should outlaw these productivity gains in the name of job creation. It would be easy. Just get rid of those John Deere harvesting machines that do in a day what used to take a thousand men a week, outlaw the robots and automation that eliminated many manufacturing jobs and bring back manually operated PBX telephone switchboards. By the way, if technological advances had not eliminated millions of jobs, where in the world would we have gotten the workers to produce all those goods and services that we now enjoy that weren’t even thought of decades ago? The bottom line is that the health of an industry is measured by its output, not by the number of people it employs.

11 replies
  1. ricbee
    ricbee says:

    I started as a machinist in 1965,in 10 years only I could create certain parts. Ten years later a dork could push a button & do better work then I ever did.

  2. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    I have listened to Dr. Williams explain this for years and how it is optimistic, so I guess he is right. However, I have looked up statistics in CT and we have had a steady drop in manufacturing. Is it possible that states governed by Democrats have had drops in manufacturing due to higher taxes and more stringent DEP rules etc? Sorry, can’t do this research, way too much for my attention span.

  3. JBS
    JBS says:

    This is not about employment. It is about manufacturing. Manufacturing is about producing a unit of something that can be brought to market for a salable price. Employees are an expensive component in the manufacturing process. Techniques progress invariable resulting in less needed employees. Should we go backward in our manufacturing approach?
    To increase employment, increase research and development, innovation and entrepreneurship. Reduce and eliminate regulations, restructure the patenting pro0cess and how intellectual property is treated. Create a business friendly climate that is the virtual opposite of what the Democrats have fostered as a business climate. Insist on fair trade especially with countries that block t hose efforts like Japan.

    • JBS
      JBS says:

      And, encourage high-school students to intern or apprentice in businesses and industries. This has all kinds of tie-ins. Students see relationships with their courses and the business milieu. All of a sudden, course content becomes relevant. School is not so boring and learning takes on meaning.

      • Lynn
        Lynn says:

        Apprentices in trades or internships work well for bored students. My older son did well in college only because he did internships at CCSU.? Working at making videos of games at CCSU and training videos for the State Prison system motivated him enough to graduate. He got a job right out of college because he had the skills already and needed little training.

  4. winnie
    winnie says:

    My dad was in manufacturing for years…built a very successful business back in the 80s that provided jobs, excellent benefits (100% paid for health insurance, and a company funded profit sharing and pension plan)…not to mention a 20% Christmas bonus every year for every employee.? No, not all employers are as generous as my dad is, but he’s a gem all the way around.
    He eventually took on 2 partners a few years ago because he was looking to eventually get to the business of retiring (which is a high order for a workaholic).? After Delta — their biggest customer — filed for chapter 11last year he decided that he was done because the climate out there is just too volatile for small manufacturing businesses.? No work = no manufacturing businesses = decrease in manufacturing.? My husband is seeing the same thing in his job with a private corporation that is heavy into government military work.? Jobs get cancelled all the time, now.??
    What was once huge industry in New England, and especially in CT, is becoming a thing of the past.

    • Truthseeker
      Truthseeker says:

      Winnie……..Thoughout time, if all industrial employers had?treated their employees like your Dad did, there would be no Unions today.? Greed and worker abuse caused Unions.? Now they have so much money and?political clout, we’ll never get rid of them.??

      • Lynn
        Lynn says:

        My husband’s company went out of business because of Unions. His father was the reason there was a Union, but then it was my husband’s ball & chain. The company paid 100% health insurance up until the last few years when employers had to pay a higher deductible, full dental insurance, pension and Christmas bonuses except the last few years.? 3 Unions had their officers embezzle and then they? morphed from one to another. The last one didn’t even bother to negotiate anymore. He knew there was no more to get and the business would be either closing or sold. We were lucky the company could be sold. Far too many small business owners, are being bled dry trying to keep afloat. When they finally can’t stand it anymore and try to sell, there are no buyers.? RIP small businesses in CT.

      • winnie
        winnie says:

        Truthseeker:? the failure of the unions was getting into bed with the government and vice versa.? They steal from the employees and funnel those monies to politicians who somehow always manage to funnel money and clout back to the unions.? It’s a sick, incestuous relationship and the worker gets screwed in the process.
        As for Dad (and Mom, to be fair — they grew the business together, went without together and made decisions together), he knew that his generosity would lead to fidelity from his employees, and it did.? But that’s not why he did it.? He did it because in his mind it was the “right” thing to do and he knew he didn’t need to hoard it all to himself.?

  5. Truthseeker
    Truthseeker says:

    Sad story indeed Lynn.? Be lucky you don’t live in Illinois where the Unions have bought both parties lock, stock and barrel.?? Here, State law requires that any?contractors performing public works projects in which any state funds are used, those contractors must pay their workers “the prevailing wages and benefits established for the locality in which the work is performed.”? This applies to both union and non-union businesses awarded such contracts.? Any wonder Illinois is flat broke?

    By the way, do you all know that all government bodies are exempted from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act?? So why are there Unions for State and Local Goverment workers??? Becuase government officials passed laws allowing? Unions to represent and bargin on behalf of government workers in exchange for ongoing political contributions.? Man, I am soooo tired of the status quo.

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