A new annual index released earlier this week by Deloitte LLP and The Manufacturing Institute shows that Americans view manufacturing as the most important industry for a strong national economy. There is a wide perception gap, however, between the public's highly positive views of manufacturing's contributions to Americas economic success and their negative views about pursuing a career in manufacturing.
The survey, Public Viewpoint on Manufacturing, which assessed public perceptions and understanding of a wide range of issues related to manufacturing, shows that the majority of respondents (71%) view manufacturing as a national priority with 59% agreeing that the U.S. manufacturing industry effectively competes on a global scale. These results fall in line with public perceptions that manufacturing plays a larger role in overall economic prosperity compared to the technology, energy, health care, retail, communications and financial services industries.
"The public's ranking of manufacturing as the top industry of importance to our economy, as well as its belief that U.S. manufacturers can compete globally, is very telling," said Craig Giffi, Deloitte LLP vice chairman and U.S. Consumer & Industrial Products industry leader. "Americans clearly still believe that manufacturing remains the backbone of the economy."
Most also agreed that Americas manufacturing industries have a significant impact on their standard of living (81%) and on national security (68%). When asked what industry they would most want to have creating 1,000 jobs in their community, respondents listed manufacturing as their top choice, followed by technology, energy, health care, retail, communications and financial institutions.
While Americans view manufacturing as the most important industry for a strong national economy, the Index shows that they are not pursuing careers in manufacturing. Only 17% named manufacturing as among their top two industry choices to start a career, and only 30% of parents said they would encourage their children to pursue jobs in manufacturing.
"This survey sheds light on a massive disconnect we are facing in manufacturing," said Emily DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute. "People have an outdated image of manufacturing and the career opportunities available. Cutting-edge technology has transformed manufacturing in ways that are hard to imagine if you have't visited a factory lately. Jobs now require postsecondary education, skills certification and credentials across a broad range of high-quality, middle class career paths. The reality is that manufacturers offer high-paying jobs and rewarding careers for American working men and women."
Respondents agreed with that conclusion. The majority (77%) believe that the U.S. needs a more strategic approach to develop its manufacturing base, and 74% said that the U.S. should further invest in manufacturing industries.
The study also showed that although Americans believe manufacturing is disadvantaged in the areas of corporate tax policies (46%), trade policies (45%) and general government business policies (45%), they are adamant on what gives the U.S. the upper hand. By far, the public sees technology use and availability (77%), skilled workers (74%) and energy availability (72%) as resources that give the nation its competitive edge.
To view the study visit http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/cda/doc/content/us_mfg_manufacturingviewpoint060809.pdf