IndustryWeek's 2009 Salary Survey Comments on Manufacturing at the Crossroads

Feb. 11, 2009
One thing all manufacturing managers seem to agree on is that things are tough out there, and getting tougher.

As part of the IndustryWeek 2009 Salary Survey, respondents were invited to share comments regarding their salary, job situation, manufacturing industry, or professional challenges. All responses were posted anonymously. Some of the following comments have been lightly edited (primarily for clarity). Also see the responses to the question: "What is the biggest challenge facing the manufacturing industry today?"

At this present instance the financial irresponsibilities of financial institutions and the lack of government to monitor and hold them accountable, equals to pure greed on their part.

The economy is making all manufacturing jobs unstable. This is a scary time for the automotive industry.

In our industry and our market position we are very stable and are confident of doing better than many manufacturers, but we do need to keep our costs lower even though sales are increasing at 3%-4%.

I do believe my knowledge in the foundry industry exceeds the compensation I receive bi-weekly. Do really like being a buyer though!

I have been laid off starting 7/1/2009.

U.S. workforce has all the opportunity available but is not competitive enough to go after it.

The credit crunch is forcing business to seriously downsize.

Greatest challenge currently is the inability to trust employers to stick with a plan and people.

Incentives for U.S. manufacturing companies to invest in capital equipment should be implemented quickly.

Federal and state governments consider the manufacturing sector as their source of revenue and impose regulations that inhibit growth and stability in domestic manufacturing.

Lack of yearly performance evaluation is unproductive. Share more in profits.

Conditions are changing very fast.

My company molds silicone rubber for medical applications and we are doing well right now, business has not fallen off and backlog remains strong.

There should be government incentives to attract manufacturing in the U.S.

I'm very concerned about the state of our economy and the direction our government is headed along with healthcare and social security.

It is essential that the commercial side of the business supports the operational side of the business and not the other way around.

Everybody has to work together if we want to see the U.S. move forward.

God blessed me with a talent of understanding machines, and I use it to help others.

Cost containment and degradation of margins are challenges. Possible lack of salary increase and lack of bonus in 2009.

Stagnant salary.

Our government should place more regulations on imports.

We need more trade-level employees, high schools need to re-implement vocational training in metalworking trades, the U.S. government needs to do something substantial with trade imbalance. The government should not have bailed out the automakers without stipulating they should buy from U.S.-based manufactures. Over 80% of the Big 3's parts are from non-U.S. manufacturers.

Would love to see reports of all of the people who are not struggling in business. There are lots of successful people out there that are doing well because they work hard and do what needs to be done. They take care of their employees when times are slow and bless them when times are good. There are still plenty of people making money and spending it wisely on things that matter for everyone.

With the poor economy we are currently working four days per week at 75% pay level.

My company is a small, closely held, corporation which operates very lean. We do not pay large salaries to any one individual or group of people, but have a small management team which makes virtually the same amount of money as the two owners. We have many challenges being in the apparel/textile related business and most of that is from foreign competition. Government intrusion and mandated costs are also one of our largest challenges. We are very disappointed with the results of the recent election which indicate more government control, more costs for taxes and entitlements and less opportunity for us to be innovative, competitive and independent. We are dismayed by the continued loss of manufacturing jobs to unfair foreign competition and the tendency of this country's politicians to enlarge government!

We need the government to help rein in the oil companies on this gasoline price issue. The ability to charge whatever they want to the American public and still make outrageous profits at the expense of the American people and businesses should not be allowed. I enjoy my job but would like to move up to where I should be relative to what my duties and responsibilities are and therefore be fully compensated for that aspect. I feel that the manufacturing section has a huge uphill battle ahead of them. Most companies are scared to pull the trigger on purchases to help preserve cash which in turn is creating problems with other industries (suppliers, customers and support companies). This effect is making the problem worse. We need to be prudent but companies need to be wise about what is happening and still look towards the future and not just a short-term focus only.

In these challenging times we need to find our rewards in meeting the challenges of continued success, not just personal profit.

Most American manufacturing companies are not open to change in a way that positively affects everyone. Personal goals and successes come before the betterment of the company, its associates, community, partners and the true long-term effect their actions have on all of them as a whole.

Recent reorganization has led to a cut-throat political environment. Technical merit is irrelevant if you don't kiss the right butt.

Need better wages, more benefits, a greater degree of career advancements.

We all need to be diversified. Geographical location prohibits such from happening.

Lucky to have a job.

Federal government and California tax structure do not support manufacturing. This leads to electronic manufacturing moving to countries such as Malaysia with its "tax holiday" and Ireland, which has a low corporate income tax. This has led to the U.S. giving away much of its long-term technological innovations to other countries. We have de-focused the country on value creation and moved it to value redistribution.

I would not recommend working for a staffing agency in a managerial position at a client's site. No matter how many hoops you jump through and no matter how well you know your responsibilities or no matter how skilled you are, it only comes down to "us, the real employees" versus "you guys, the second-rate people from the vendor company." That applies even if you are much more experienced, skilled and respected by the general staff. Your directors do not have any authority over any circumstance and therefore cannot truly support you. They will never give up the business or challenge the client because you are 100% correct and you know they know it but their egos won't allow them (the client) to admit or acknowledge it. Your team will work twice as hard as the client's team but will never get that recognition from the client and always feel like second rate. It is very difficult to raise morale and have continuous improvement under these mentally challenging conditions. Last but not least, if you are good at what you do, your agency will never promote you or move you to another site where you can grow because they wouldn't dare change a world their client is content with. One more thought, it is extremely difficult to be successful with both your "clients," your company's client AND your own company is your client. You have to outperform any other agency AND you have to make your agency/staffing company a high margin on the services you are providing your external client. Both feel they are your priority and both would like you to "manipulate" the other to get the best bang for their buck. Choosing is a constant and inevitable circumstance on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. I thought I was done but I thought of yet one more major challenge. It is very difficult to find reliable and skilled labor when you can only pay minimum wage and cannot guarantee work on any given day.

I was laid off Dec. 10, 2008.

I am an extremely fortunate individual in the manufacturing industry, having risen to a top management job over the years and having had the opportunity to work with so many great people. I am concerned about the importance our government leaders place on maintaining and developing industries that create jobs and overall provide for a socially acceptable environment for employees to enjoy a stable life environment. Services do not generate jobs without some industry to generate incomes for our people to live comfortably and need service provider industries. I firmly believe our society has its roots in manufacturing, much as we were an agricultural society two centuries ago.

I have a job today.

Regarding challenges to U.S. manufacturing, other challenges (besides the recession) are foreign competition and energy costs.

I don't play politics, and believe that is still considered a hindrance here and other companies.

I feel that it is important to have progressive and well-trained leadership for a company to succeed today. People who are constantly studying, benchmarking and actively implementing new strategies to improve their business operations will win.

Aging executive management must recognize the importance of mentorship for the next generation of managers. Too much responsibility has been left to the individual to learn the business which causes abuse of the management and financial systems.

Manufacturing has lost prestige as an important and rewarding profession.

Manufacturing must do a better job of educating educators or at least counselors of the potential in the manufacturing field.

Manufacturing's image as a "second class" career needs to be improved in order to attract talented professionals.

The state of the manufacturing industry, in my opinion, is in dire straits. Anymore the United States seems to be service-industry oriented.

Corporate politics allowing poor quality and poor teamwork.

Since I've been a manager (10 years), I've realized first hand at four different employers how engineers are undervalued by other top management (and thus underpaid).

The uneducated part of the work force has too much to say about the technology, business, etc. This is a common problem of the Midwest. Too big power of the unions.

The company doesn't pay comparable to other companies for the job title.

Manufacturers have to keep pounding their Representatives and Senators to stop the stupid amount of government spending that goes on, causing our taxes and the taxes of our employees to go up. They need to stop siding unequivocally with unions and let wages and benefits equalize to what the rest of the world offers. And, schools need to stop telling kids manufacturing is not a good or viable career path.

The manufacturing industry in the U.S. is in grave peril.

2009 will be a definitive year for US manufacturers. The current financial and global demand slump will allow companies to restructure for a successful for themselves as well as their employees. The current situation is still concerning, but only due to our nature of being a quick response, quick solution/answer society.

I am blessed to work for a company who appreciates its employees, is environmentally responsible, a good corporate citizen, and is willing to invest in the facility.

The older generation is retiring and it seems as though the younger generation just have not learned about work ethics nor output verses the pay they get. Too easy too long and no discipline. Whose fault is it, parents?

Organizations need to change with the times, i.e., technology.

Salary cuts were implemented after a record year in anticipation of a continuing downturn in 2009.

Tough year ahead for everyone. Lack of teamwork overall and has worsened since the decline in the economy.

Major corporations need to think long-term versus short-term profits and realize their impact on the overall future of our county versus management bonuses.

Salary is fine, job is secure at this time, no career growth in present job, manufacturing in our area is dying.

The farm equipment market will be tough for the next couple of years because of the commodities.

Economy hurting manufacturing overall.

Too many manufacturing jobs have been exported. The United States must come up with an energy plan to help compete with foreign manufacturers. I feel underpaid.

Hopefully manufacturing wakes up and realizes that in times of downsizing and economic challenges, an increased focus on safety will only help all areas of the operations meet their challenging goals more effortlessly.

I can almost go anywhere to do what I do, but I would rather stay where I am at in my life.

No bonuses paid last year due to poor economic conditions and declining sales.

Manufacturing in the U.S. is now a victim of common stupidity that values and incents imports and retail over manufacturing, thereby creating a $700 billion dollar trade deficit and the consequent disastrous economic situation we now face. Take the time to go to the Levy institute website and read Wynne Godley's economic analysis published in March, 2003. I shared that analysis with some Congressmen, along with the prediction that with the conditions present in 2003, the U.S. auto manufacturers would be broke by the end of the decade. No one wanted to hear anything but tax cuts. Unless the trade deficit issue is addressed in a serious manner, the trillion dollar federal deficit will leak overseas and not be the long-term stimulus we need to create a lasting and strong recovery.

Work load continues to increase with minimal compensation and ongoing job eliminations.

Even with a bachelor's degree, I an financially depressed and unable to find work in my field of education.

My recent personal history includes being laid-off at age 59. It took 2-1/2 years to find an employer willing to hire me, even though I would take a job for the salary that would be paid to any candidate with lots less experience. My search was nationwide with very few limitations on location. I have to say that age discrimination is alive and well in the U.S.

U.S. manufacturing is in critical condition on its deathbed.

It is clear to us that government and government officials cannot be trusted. They lie, cheat and accept bribes with impunity and their behaviors are being reflected in the general business community. It is very difficult to talk honesty to ambitious, young hires when they see their senator and congressman accepting bribes and going unpunished. We have no faith in law enforcement to act in the interest of the communityonly in their own!

Smaller manufacturing companies have infrastructure challenges and are facing growth challenges and cost issues.

The economy problem is very scary.

I personally have not accepted any increases in salary for several years. I am beyond retirement age and still enjoy the involvement in our business. A major problem that I see is the over-involvement of our government. We are a small business in our 93rd year. We have a great, loyal workforce, several generations; we pay our bills including heavy taxes, support our community and industry; however, and on top of that, we are expected to pay for the inefficiencies of poorly run "big companies" and "big government" of which we have no control. We are only the little guy that tries our best to follow the rules. If we would run our company as poorly as the some of the large companies and government, we would be out of business. Enough said.

I work at a company that does pay for performance with key performance indicators (KPIs) but would also see some expansion to include a better distribution via profit sharing in some fashion.

Current salary is good. Not sure what changes will take place going forward as the economy continues to wallow.

I think the combination of managers turning our manufacturing companies into purchasing companies through outsourcing and the misrepresentation of manufacturing by our educational system as being somehow "beneath" people of talent and intelligence have crippled U.S. manufacturing, and thus the entire U.S. economy, for years to come. REAL wealth is only created by producing things and as the current financial debacle shows, investing in anything other than improving our ability to produce things is of dubious long-term benefit. The "service economy" is a myth. Look what happened to China, South Korea, Mexico and India when they decided to improve their manufacturing base.

The low entry cost of our industry has created low margin competition.

Concerned about Obama's Employee Free Choice Act, which is actually a mob tactic and should be called the "If you don't sign this card, I'll break your legs" threat.

Tough business conditions. Survival is the mode.

I feel very fortunate to be with a successful company with inspiring staff and management.

I believe my salary should be higher, however, the benefits do compensate fairly well.

Our educational system (lower and higher) need to do a better job to cultivate technical people for manufacturing industry. More emphasis on manufacturing/technical and less on service- oriented industry. U.S. manufacturing otherwise will be overrun by those countries that are currently enjoying a new industrial age and have a hungry (to achieve) population.

We are facing a second round of layoffsdepressing!

2009 will continue to be an extremely challenging business environment for the Automobile Industry as it faces perhaps an unprecedented combination of factors including low consumer demand, tight credit markets and an increasing demand from consumers and legislation for significant product change. This is causing all auto manufacturers to rethink manufacturing strategies across all aspects of operations.

Business is at an all time low and with that comes sacrifices. Soon we are hoping by doing this we can reap the rewards.

Trade unions have hurt American manufacturing; they served their purpose in the early 20th century; they are too powerful today (automobile manufacturing, for example).

The auto industry is changing too much too fast to keep up and make stable discussions.

It's long past time for a shake-up in most industries. Those that have not worked hard to accomplish certain efficiencies in manufacturing should be allowed to fail. Those that operate at the highest levels of efficiency are already profiting from their achievements, and will continue to do so in the future. Companies have failed in the past, and will do so in the future, and from their demise, new companies will emerge that grow and prosper by embracing efficient processes and methods.

Economy, economy, economy. There is an across the board, non bargaining employee wage freeze and no bonus. Of course the state of year-end financials and various targets nearly dictate zero bonus. We recently experienced both salaried and bargaining employee layoffs (permanent). The manufacturing facility is wholly a five-day Monday through Friday operation versus maybe two years ago being a 7/24 operation.

We were projecting a recession, but the economy has fallen faster and further than even in 1980-82. It is all a result of the huge amount of debt steroids the U.S. and world economy have been living on.

South Dakota is a great place to live, but salaries are low. Manufacturing in remote areas is years behind the industry as a whole. Good personnel are very hard to find. We have noticed anything concerning the recession as of today's date. IW is a great magazine!

Work hours (50+) and commute take a toll on mental health and family relationships. Salary, benefits and security offset demands. Being successful in serving the customer's needs is rewarding.

Most companies are in survival mode. They must learn how to do more with less.

With the current economic climate these are challenging times for all of us in the manufacturing industry.

Business is bad and likely to get worse.

Lean needs to become a way of life and not just buzzwords

Being 70% automotive, the trickle-down effect is hitting us also. No raises, and slow business.

It's becoming more and more difficult for large corporations to compete in the manufacturing world.

Most of our manufacturing has gone abroad over the past eight years and now my job has changed to strictly quality control management of goods coming in. Actually the job is proving to be interesting since I am responsible for creating and running tests on new items coming into the market.

I am very pleased with my current salary since I have been a manager for 1.25 years. My job is currently very secure and I recently picked up responsibility of the Maintenance Department in 2009. The fastener manufacturing industry outside of automotive has seen little decline and we are currently experiencing issues with keeping up with orders. Professional challenges moving forward include the ability to produce more with less.

We need highly skilled toolmakers/machinists.

U.S. workers need to change their attitudeshard work and commitment to quality are important for stability and growth!

Focusing on diversity rather than purpose and unity threatens the work environment. Companies must know their purpose, customers and products; respect but not pamper workers; invest and improve technologies to keep jobs in the U.S.; the government should incentify keeping jobs here and severely penalize exporting work.

Underpaid, overworked.

Fair salary, but not keeping up with inflation.

Because of the economy having a salary is important, but continuing education, career advancement, benefits, and vacation time all play a part in job satisfaction.

All hourly and salaried people need more appreciation from the industries they work hard for.

I have worked with or for most of the manufacturing in the U.S. and what I have witnessed as a prominent point of manufacturing decline is the rise of college-based educated management rather than floor-trained personnel into process level management positions; thus you have a growing number of managers with no process experience.

Our Congress needs to level the field. Remove obstacles to American business or make China follow the same rules, i.e., patents, copyrights, environmental responsibility, product safety, etc.

The global economy is great for consumers but bad for domestic employees.

The exodus of the manufacturing segment out of the U.S. is alarming. There are not enough jobs at Wal-Mart to support the economy. There are more distribution centers in my area than manufacturing plants.

Companies are cutting engineering pay.

Stay away from manufacturing.

Happy and thankful to be employed.

Salary has stalled.

Getting closer to retirement but still having fun!

Keep overseas imports to a minimum. Buy American.

It isn't fun anymore.

Challenges from global competitors, retirement of baby boomers, and lack of interest by the millennial generation cause a complex environment for U.S.-based manufacturers.

With the changing political and economic environment it is critical that manufacturing take as many proactive steps as possible to streamline operations and take all unnecessary costs out of manufacturing processes in order to remain viable.

I believe over the next two years, a large number of manufacturers in the U.S. will struggle to stay afloat, and a number of these manufacturers will not make it.

Manufacturing needs better support of government and politicians as it is the backbone of any economy. Service and financial industries get too much attention and liberties.

Pay scales across the country need to be properly aligned with the skill level and experience of the workforce. Unions typically cause this balance to be misaligned.

I feel as long as we keep giving our manufacturing jobs to across seas we are shooting ourselves in the feet. We must bring manufacturing back to the U.S. and control the products being used in them to cut down on this cancer situation. Using products that we outlawed 20-30 years ago and sending them back over hear puts us right back into the same situation we were in when we stopped making them here. We are now letting China produce the products and sell them to us and we won't even make them because they are unsafe to our families? I strongly feel until we bring our jobs back to the U.S. and put our people back to work then we will continue to be in the situation we are in. I miss the production of furniture in the U.S. and it really was the backbone of the U.S. when it was here. I don't have a figure on jobs lost in the furniture industry but I would like to hear them if anyone could get them. Made in the USA sure sounds great to me.

The people in government need a slap in the face for not knowing how each of the different manufacturing companies are tied together, either by the parts they make or the things their employees buy. It's a trickle-down effect all through our nation. If government can't stop jobs going out of this country, then the only jobs left will be fast food. Buy a car or house on those wages.

Currently we have too much work for our capacity and work too much overtime.

The current state of manufacturing is depressing.

Managing growth was more fun than what we have to deal with today. I miss it already. Reduced focus on future process development, short-term thinking/behaviors are the norm.

U.S. government and corporations need to hold overseas competitors to the same standards as U.S.-based manufacturers to create an even playing field.

Companies should be focusing more on lean management, especially with the current need to lower cost.

Three undisputable, unambiguous facts: If the U.S. stopped all manufacturing and production, from farming to building jet planes, we'd soon run out of money by importing all products. We'd starve. If we continue buying from countries that refuse to buy from us, the same thing will happen; it will just take longer. Buy American!

Challenges with manufacturing in the U.S.: energy, commodity cost, governmental support.

I just took a 25% pay cut, from salary to hourly.

It's time to do more back in the U.S.

Due to the world economic crisis automotive plants will remain closed through most of January [2009], causing my company to reduce our salary by 20%. We do not know what February will bring, hopefully not unemployment!

I am one of the lucky ones to be in the aerospace industry at this time and working for a great owner.

Again the loss of hourly inputs, "quality circles," etc., is continuing. Upper management cannot admit that they are ruining companies with bad management.

Manufacturing jobs going north of the border. We are in structural steel fabrication and time and again we see contracts for Public works [projects, fully tax payer funded, go to Canadian companies. Why expand and pay more tax dollars if those dollars are ending up north of the border instead of back in our own state or at least in our own country.

I'm currently at a well managed, privately held company that is much better than the short-term, results-driven publicly traded companies I previously worked at. America's biggest problem is lack of long-term vision and focus on making money now at the cost of long-term growth.

Concerned about the new President passing new taxes to promote wasteful government spending; offshore wages are only half the problem. Foreign material prices subsidized by governments adds to the problem.

The economy has affected our productivity to a declining situation. As with other companies, concerns about job security are rising.

Manufacturing is the foundation of strong economies. I have worked in five totally different industries and am proud to be able to contribute in my small way to the U.S. economic strength.

Most of the senior staff and production workers receive pay increases only every two or three years.

Lean is changing the way we do things in the U.S., and companies must align with this core practice ASAP. Lean is a business critical tool for any U.S. company to stay competitive with the low-cost country regions.

May more manufacturing return to the U.S.

Not enough resources to properly do the job.

Continues to be challenging with offshore competition.

Salary is not compatible for expectations.

We are in for quite a ride as borders between countries become less clear.

Our politicians are the last place we should be relying on to develop any coherent domestic manufacturing policy. These are primarily morons, mostly with no private sector experience. If we do not steward over what we still have, it will all disappear beyond tolerable conditions. We can't survive with only nonmanufacturing jobs. As the world's economy equilibrates, there will be changes and some drastic ones for the worst in the U.S. We have to be prepared to weather these declines. We must make sure we are not losing or surrendering more than our fair share to the global economy. While there are excesses in the private sector that need controlling, the government is not doing anything close to a good job in this critical area. I subscribe to the policies of Teddy Roosevelt. Sometimes the government has to step in and whack wrongdoing HARD. However, government tends to do it in the wrong places, for the wrong reasons, in the wrong timeframe, and tends to stick around too long doing it. We all know that government can't ever pull the plug on anything it has created, even if it is long past its usefulness. Our biggest hurdle in this day and age is OUR GOVERNMENT! It only knows how to negatively meddle, never really becoming a partner with the very sector that truly creates value for the United States. We are to blame since WE vote for those who fleece us to their own advantage.

Lean is being practiced in our company; however, a basic principle of lean is missing in that we need to ask our staff what we can do to help them perform their jobs more effectively.

Manufacturing is much more important to the health of the U.S. economy than most of our Congress understands.

In our industry salary does not keep up with other industries.

Can't wait to retire in October 2009.

My current salary is somewhat based on my 30 years at the company.

Declines are expected due to poor economic trends. We typically cycle six months behind recessions so we are just beginning to see signs of a slowdown. We'll survive but salaries will be impacted. Too bad our 401k's are down and it may take five years to recoup just the losses, let alone any gains. May have to work forever.

We must look at bringing consumer goods manufacturing back to the U.S.

The current world economic and financial crisis has made this the most challenging time in my profession and career. It has also raised the importance of the contributions supply chain professionals make to the organization.

What does the U.S. still manufacture (that's actually made in the U.S.)?

The unions are killing our competitiveness.

I recognize that in my situation, Maslow's Hierarchy of needs impact my answers to the survey. (i.e., safety and security are more important today than a year ago.)

When will the country and specifically our political leaders realize that manufacturing is the backbone of our economy? Concern of taxation, and government involvement.

American companies need to do all they can to keep manufacturing jobs in America. I believe this needs to happen through competitive practices. I think that American companies should be able to play on a level playing field with other countries, in terms of tariffs and trade limitations, etc.

Loyalty and dedication to a company is no longer considered desirable.

Due to plant closing, I will be seeking a new position in mid-2009.

Our government needs to recognize the importance of a strong manufacturing base. The financial golden goose has laid her last egg and has now been cooked, leaving us spattered in the grease!

Any company that has an in-house creative department should have a VP reporting directly to the president. In my experience, the only people who can successfully represent the needs of a creative department are creative professionals. Without such representation, the needs of creative go unheard and ultimately there is nothing left to manufacture but obsolete product.

The lean movement is proving to be a cancer.

Salary has generally been lagging behind for most of my career.

U.S. manufacturers need to consider overall reductions in labor costs stateside in order to compete with China. The unions are not doing us any favors by protecting high-cost/low-skilled workers. Suggest more government-funded promotion of the tool and die industry as a career path and incentive to pursue for the next generation.

I have been in a manufacturing twice for this company. The first time involved closing a plant and transferring the production. This time my involvement has been to improve production throughput. Both are challenging situations. We have great people in the manufacturing operations and it is difficult to move a facility and terminating the workers. This time the challenge is to do more with fewer people. It has not meant terminations, which is a plus, but at times the workload results in difficult situations for the employees because there are fewer of them. On a positive note looking for new methods and equipment to handle the production work is exciting.

Politicians pay lip service to manufacturing without defining steps to make us competitive in the world. I am constantly under the gun to reduce cost and that means going offshore in many instances.

We are outsourcing our core competencies.

Compensation, quality of life, stability are what is important.

Upper management has had no salary increase in the last five years, and took a decrease last year as part of an effort to reduce operating expenses and remain a U.S. manufacturer.

We have a bonus plan but have not received one in two years because other parts of the company have not performed.

We are cutting jobs left and right, not fat or over capacity, but good decent hardworking people. A major failure in the auto industry would likely put us out of business.

I work on a job that pays based on production so it's really hard to make ends meet with the way manufacturing is presently. Still wouldn't have it another way because as a supervisor it is easy to have motivated employees.

Best place for job satisfaction.

Not happy that my livelihood is under attack, and our own Congress is not willing to help, nor is Wall Street being held accountable for its excesses and greed. Also to blame are economic policies that have favored the financial sector over manufacturing, and a trade policy that favors foreign producers over domestics.

No bonus this year.

Too much is expected for wage being paid.

The CEO thinks he understands my job but is only interested in one thing: "Will it be done on time?" There's no mentoring, no coaching, no trying to understand, nothing.

U.S. automakers and the UAW need to re-think their operations strategy and decide if they will finally get serious about really competing with the Japanese.

The possible new union laws that are being discussed could be the end of North American manufacturing, unless the unions are going to change how they work. They must add to the companies, not to the individuals.

Reduce the cost of doing business by remove barriers to enter and stay in markets by reevaluating and changing the laws and restrictions that are outdated or do not add value.

Tough environment at this time but still difficult to find good people.

I remain concerned that we've offshored too much technology and jobs to China. There is no path to return these jobs to the U.S.

Getting other employees to change and look for and eliminate waste to improve business.

Tough times for companies.

Domestic manufacturing is shrinking in the face of foreign competition. A country that does not make goods is destined to lose its wealth producing ability.

The cost of medical insurance is out of hand. Universal healthcare is a very viable option.

Must bring jobs back to the U.S. with limited interference from unions.

Top management's challenges are focused on meeting monthly and quarterly sales and profits. Given the economy, with ongoing RIFs, these run contrary to the issues of long-term stability and development of our workforce.

I started with an entry level salary for this job and have received raises each year that have not brought me to what I thought I would be making at this point in my career. I have been saving for the last year and am going to move to Hawaii and enjoy the simple life instead.

America is losing our manufacturing base. This is the base on which most "value" is created. If we don't generate products/value, then we will not have the money to purchase services.

I am very concerned at the way our industry is losing business to the Orient. As a nation we need to support our industries and re-establish a value of purchasing products made in the U.S.

We are close to being a Shingo Prize nominee. Lean manufacturing in the seasonal hearth industry is the only way to go. We are located in Maine and have a non-union workforce that is highly flexible and willing to take ownership in the company. We are ranked #1 in Best Companies to Work in Maine b/c our employees care. I am lucky.

Although pay is the single biggest factor, recognition and job satisfaction keep me here.

Equity issues and use of the forced rank talent management system undermines results.

I will need a new job in the next six months due to plant closing.

The loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs provides fewer opportunities for middle income earners, thus creating a larger gap between economic groups.

Manufacturing is one of the industries that the U.S. needs to retain. No one today really wants to take a career path in manufacturing due to its pay and long hours. If we do not have manufacturing as a base in the U.S., how are all the service industries going to survive?

American manufacturing must find ways to compete in a global market.

Salary is okay, job market for me is okay, state of economy is poor. CEOs need to have their salary/bonus pulled in line with more realistic numbers.

My salary may be low but it is more than an unemployment check.

I am the business owner; personnel issues tend to be the greatest challenge.

The salaries in this part of Texas are very low even though we work in a very high risk industrysteel mills.

The automotive industry is facing challenges that were really unimaginable or foreseeable at this time. Change is required. Not sure the domestic manufacturers will be given enough time.

The economy is hurting business the most right now. Companies also need to recognize the need for continuing education to lead new information and processes in your industry.

What an economic mess we are in now!

Raw material costs are plummeting, but unfortunately so are orders.

For manufacturing processes which cannot be outsourced, finding quality personnel to fill vacancies by retirees is a challenge.

I manage export projects for oil & gas marketa very stressful and demanding job.

My company feels I should appreciate having a job.

While recognition of my importance to the organization is very important to me, so is the level of pay for the position

Manufacturing is not recognized as a challenging and important part of our economy, even though at the end, if we don't make anything, the country will not thrive. We cannot all work for McDonald's or in entertainment (higher salaries there, though!).

Salary is going to be stagnant until the economy picks up.

The recognition of manufacturing as necessary to our success as a country.

Keeping costs low enough to keep manufacturing in the United States to reduce the loss of jobs here at home.

I believe my salary is too low for my skills and education.

I believe more companies are being run by a financial officer. These individuals look at the cost of an item and decide to buy or use it. They don't have a clue if the item will last and/or perform what it needs to do. In other words they look at the dollar signs and not the quality of the product.

Having been given an ownership role in the company has made the difference to me. I could be making more in salary elsewhere, but an ownership stake in a small profitable business has made the difference.

If there is not a fundamental change in American policy to protect American jobs and manufacturing, we will see a total collapse of our economy, our freedom and our current high standard of living. Democracy in the U.S. and the world is at stake. Without a strong America, the world will end up in the hands of dictators and the like. Strong manufacturing is fundamental to freedom and independence.

We need to manufacture more in this country.

The volatility in the market of raw materials without the ability to charge more because of the escalation in material costs and if you can charge more you may not be competitive. The other thing is the import market has been strong and unfairly allowed into the U.S. markets. We need to change things or we will be very dependent on foreign imports as the manufacturing in the U.S. will be history.

Contemplating move to health industry for job stability.

In the last 10 years, total of 10% in raises.

Too much Buzzword Bingo. There's really nothing new out there. Nothing can take the place of a well trained work force with a good work ethic.

Lucky to have a job.

Daily challenged to stay on top of advances in technology.

Vocational technical training for manufacturing has been decreasing every year. Not everyone is going to be an IT manager so I feel we need to change our thinking all the back to the high school level and support technical trades, not just think that's where you send all the kids they feel are too dumb to go to college.

Job and business (electrical components) is tenuous. Both will likely be gone in two years.

Hope the manufacturing base in this country does not erode any further.

The U.S. government needs to realize farming and strong manufacturing are the base for any strong economy. They actually create real value, not paper value. The biggest issue is the amount of hours it takes to get the extremely heavy workload accomplished with no compensation.

Need increase of salary now.

With the economy where it is, no job is safe, no matter how much experience you have or years with the company.

Bored and stagnated in job.

Better to be in manufacturing/engineering than finance.

I feel that the company I work for, is paying around $12,000 less then I could get elsewhere with the same or less responsibilities.

Bring manufacturing back to America.

In the U.S. we have to recognize that it is a world market. In order to be competitive our standard of living has to come down a few pegs. Our major manufacturing upper management needs to realize that it can't be business as usual. Deming tried to show that to them many years ago and they didn't pay attention.

American workers are losing jobs to other countries. They have no OSHA, no EPA, no EOCC, no NLRA, no freedom.

U.S. going to hell in a hand basket.

In Connecticut, it is increasingly more difficult to conduct business due to the anti-business laws, taxes, etc.

No raises this year.

We must fight to maintain a manufacturing base in this country. Without manufacturing we are destined to become a country like the UK.

Every day I wonder if I will have a job tomorrow.

If U.S. manufacturing continues to be assaulted, no matter the reasons, all of us holding jobs in any sector will suffer continual job losses, reduced salaries, at risk pensions, and meager returns on our 401k's.

Current instability due to G.W.B. and his cronies.

We have difficulty finding new engineers and other technical people that want to work in a manufacturing environment (shop floor). My company has started to hire interns from local high schools and colleges, and have talked to high school and college administrators about reinstituting the "old" shop classes in high school to train people to enter the "trades". It seems the high school level is the time to start. College may be too late.

I'm satisfied with my salary, but I'm constantly under stress to get things done in time.

The transition from typical manufacturing processes to TPS principles must be fully understood and supported by upper and middle management. Once this becomes a daily priority, then continuous improvement programs can be sustained.

Manufacturing is in major trouble, and may not make it much longer.

We as Americans have got to become more efficient in the way we do our jobs. We became fat and happy and the economy is paying for it.

Our country needs to realize the importance of manufacturing to our future lifestyle.

Women are not as respected as men in manufacturing. They are seen as clerical workers and given the bulk of the work.

Lack of skilled workers in the factories.

Very concerned about the future of the carpet industry.

It appears that manufacturing in the U.S. is a dying profession. I would not recommend our children enter into that. That is a concern to me about the viability of a economy in the long haul if it is service oriented.

Manufacturing in this country is in big trouble. The competition from China and the current economic crisis, especially in the automotive industry, is devastating. We are running at 30% this month and further layoffs and reduced hour work weeks are forecasted to follow in January [2009] if the economy doesn't start picking up. I support free trade, but when you can purchase tooling components from China for the cost of the raw materials in the U.S., something is wrong. China has to be subsidizing their manufacturing in this world economy for them to be able to provide tooling for the cost of the raw materials. We can't compete against that so we need to regulate it. I think we all know that it isn't really free trade but I don't see it on the agenda. Does the U.S. government even know that our policies are broken?

One year from retirement at age 66.

Short-term goals have affected the decision making at the expense of long-term viability.

Professional challenges: Getting employees to effectively work together and set personality differences aside.

Benefits are a big part of why I am still here.

A significant challenge for manufacturing in the current environment is the dichotomy between what is healthy for the business and what is desired by investors. Manufacturing requires a long-term focus to build a sustainable business, but investors in public and private operations are only interested in short-term profits. They are too often willing to cripple or destroy the manufacturing company in order to harvest short-term rewards, thereby harming the people who work at the company. If this behavior continues, workers at all levels (except CEOs and their staffs with bonuses that reward business closures) will flee manufacturing.

Medical manufacturing is a good industry to be in during difficult economic times as the need is always there.

I am fortunate to be working in an industry that is somewhat protected from the current downturn as it is in the food sector.

When will the government bail out manufacturing as a whole?

Company has wage and hiring freeze for 2009. Also, 10% reduction in staff before the end of 2008.

During my 30+ years in manufacturing in the HR field, I have seen my job change significantly from employee relations to compliance issues. I am continuing to spend more time reading and studying laws and rules and the never ending changes in them.

It's unfortunate this state (Vermont) is manufacturing-unfriendly and has very high taxes. This affects all including base salary, standard of living etc. This is becoming a service state where our youth will be working at McDonald's, waitresses, service station attendants, because we aren't in favor of manufacturing and industrial growth without so many rule and regulations no one wants to come here.

Salary base is too low and due to the economy this will not change.

The respect for manufacturing needs to improve in the U.S. for our economy to prosper, and for us to attract talent to this sector.

Very satisfied, work for an outstanding organization that employs industry professionals second to none!

I'm concerned about the lack of young people getting into manufacturing.

We must have a supply of trained yet affordable hourly workers. Increases in wages and therefore standard of living will put us out of the manufacturing world.

Working in aerospace has always been a challenge that I have enjoyed and look forward to going to work daily, especially when you get the chance to work with the team I work with.

We need to stop sending jobs overseas!

If the government is worried about healthcare, manufacturing always paid fair wages and had healthcare for the family. The problem now is everyone can't work for Wal-Mart. We need to make things, not just push money around. The economy is beginning to look like a giant pyramid scheme.

Manufacturing management needs to focus on customers and products and not shareholders.

I'm happy where I'm at now.

Companies need to focus not only on the dollar. They need to consider the impact they have on employees' lives. The decisions of a company should take into account the impact they have on communities, not just the impact they have to the owner's pockets.

I would like to say that something other than base salary is the most important aspect of the job. But when the base salary does not make the monthly payments/bills, nothing else matters.

I'm getting less due to ethnicity.

The U.S. can't keep saying we don't need to manufacture. Manufacturing drives all future consumer demand.

Concerned that manufacturing is leaving U.S. and that design may follow.

Uncertainty of the economy has caused layoffs and so I do not feel secure in my position with a smaller manufacturing company.

My company is beginning to feel impact of the recession. Layoffs of salaried and hourly associates are pending.

We need fair trade, not free trade.

I would take a pay cut to prevent layoffs.

At this point in time I am glad to still be employed and employed by a leader in our industry.

Feeling of being undercompensated.

I could not recommend as a career path in U.S. due to a post-industrial apathy toward manufacturing.

The fact that too many companies are more interested in making money than making things at the expense of the future well-being of the nation. There are three ways to make money: mine it, grow it or build it. This country's industrial and corporate boards need to recognize that this country cannot sustain itself as a service economy.

I will not let my grandchildren enter the manufacturing field!

I have recently started a job shop and it appears that the work is there, you just have to go find it and do it right on time the first time. We have seen great growth through our first two years.

Underpaid for the field but not a lot of competition in this geographical area.

What the hell is going on in America?

With all of the layoffs that are happening I am not sure manufacturing is the business to be in.

Overworked and always stressed. Doing the work of two or three employees.

I should be making more money.

This country cannot survive on service sector jobs. We need manufacturing here in the U.S. or we are doomed.

Schools portray manufacturing as less than desirable for a profession. This contributes to the decline in the number of qualified people.

I am very grateful to be part of a company that looked ahead to today's economic crisis and invested in "recession-proof" markets.

The U.S. manufacturing industry is in a fragile position. Everything must be looked at to reduce cost and increase efficiencies down to the smallest details. Companies must push back on price increases and not just accept as the norm. Everyone in the company must be willing to make sacrifices to survive. The days of golden parachutes and union inflexibility are gone.

My salary is low for my position. The only reason I post an increase in salary is because I changed jobs in 2009. I will likely be seeing 0% increase in pay from 2008-2009 at my current company.

The amount of money made by top company executives is criminalthey are just a hired hand like the rest of us.

I work in a UAW plant and it's a battle every day to get employees just to do their job. They have a mind set of "What can I get for doing nothing?" Then they wonder why American jobs are going overseas.

I regret that I cannot recommend manufacturing as a career goal to any of my three children.

The U.S. needs to recognize the importance of manufacturing jobs vs. those in service industries and take steps to put those jobs in the U.S.

Outsourcing is toxic to the long-term viability of the company, easily done, difficult to undo. The motivation is often to gain or preserve a bonus (short-term goal).

Government needs to get out of the way so we can compete.

The global economy is the biggest boon, and the largest stumbling block for manufacturing. Heavy industry is still solid with the middle of the market contracting. The future of manufacturing will require a paradigm shift for the world's largest and most dynamic economies. Conservatism, economy and pull through are going to be the new mantra.

Our new management is bad management.

U.S. manufacturing is at a crossroads. It has the opportunity to regain its previous level of prestige if it will only concentrate on delivering consistently high quality products.

Most organizations (in my experience of 20+ years) have poor human resources and succession planning strategies. The technology is fine but internal politics and conflict resolution issues prevail. Also, there are still too few synergies in the supply chain to improve overall economic standing in any particular industry. Too much gap between executive compensation and value-added workforces and management team.

There are many talented peoples that are paid just base salaries. They need to be recognized and rewarded for their hard work.

I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to be working for such a fabulous company that is committed to its employees and customers.

With current conditions, dictated by factors outside of the control of any one company, there may be a realignment of the workforce away from manufacturing which could be a stake in the heart for manufacturing in the U.S.

The industry needs leaders, not managers.

This is a very challenging time for automotive. When I chose this industry I had no idea that we would ever see the amount of stress and uncertainly that we are now faced with.

Even with the amount of unemployed people today we still can't find qualified people at any level from office to the production floor.

My job would be much better if I wasn't micro-managed every day.

Quality products depend on quality peoplethe ratio of qualified applicants is about 1/25. Thank you U.S. government for the incompetent workforce established from the handouts and bailouts.

Speed of decline in the economy is biggest concern. Where is the bottom?

Competent/educated technical employees are hard to find.

Although I believe in a free market system, the government needs to set some ground rules so that manufacturers in this country are playing on a level field. The incoming president MUST act quickly and recognize that keeping manufacturing jobs in the United States is the best way out of the current economic crisis.

Jobs are being lost overseas only because, it seems, the CEOs want to make more profit. Quality of the work we get is below standard, but it doesn't seem to matter because the cost is less. Professional challenges: keeping your job when you're over 50, looking for a job without a college education. Experience does not matter when trying to look for new positions.

As an automotive supplier to the Detroit 3, I am very concerned about the future of the automotive industry.

Concerned that top management is committed to a strong American manufacturing base.

This recession is going to be ugly.

We are directly related to the automotive industry so it is tough right now.

Corporations are heartless; people are just entities.

Manufacturing needs a level playing field in all the countries that we do business with. Import duties that are higher on U.S. products in foreign countries should not be allowed by U.S. law. The U.S. should impose the same duties on imported goods into the U.S. as the foreign country charges.

Bring manufacturing back to the U.S. and make it a "sexy" enough industry that will attract and retain the talent we need to be the manufacturing "superpower." Teach about the importance of manufacturing and producibility engineering in our engineering schools. Make it interesting again!

See Also

Popular Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!