The State of Manufacturing

In President Obama’s State of the Union address last month, he laid out a blueprint for the U.S. economy that is built on manufacturing. Within his pledge to improve incentives for manufacturers to stay in the country, he said, “American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. added 330,000 manufacturing-based jobs in 2011. With companies adding 243,000 jobs throughout the economy last month alone (taking unemployment down to the lowest its been in three years), 50,000 were in manufacturing. That’s the fastest the manufacturing sector has grown in seven months.

It all sounds pretty good. But let’s not forget that the recession brought with it the loss of 2.3 million manufacturing jobs. Will we even get half of those back when all is said and done?

What’s your perspective on the state of manufacturing? Are we set for a comeback, particularly as China’s labor cost advantage begins to erode? Or will we continue to struggle?