Even after decades of offshore outsourcing, manufacturing remains a leading US industry and employer. The manufacturing industry comprises companies engaged in turning materials or components into products, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Leading manufacturing employers include General Electric, Toyota, Nestle, Boeing and Hewlett-Packard. As of May 2012, more than 11.9 million US workers held a job in manufacturing.
Manufacturing Job Market
Manufacturing employment in 2010 included more than 1.6 million assemblers and fabricators, reports the BLS, with 88,000 jobs projected to be added by 2020. Industrial production managers held just over 150,000 positions, and these jobs in manufacturing are expected to grow by 9 percent through 2020, slower than the average for all occupations.
The number of US manufacturing jobs declined by millions during the 2007-2009 recession, and although manufacturers are again creating new jobs, the losses have not been entirely recouped. In the 2010s, competitive pressure forces American manufacturers to run leaner all the time. Success for manufacturing production workers, engineers and managers means using technology to continuously increase productivity. More and more, even factory-floor jobs require considerable mathematical skills and problem-solving ability.
Common manufacturing job titles include manufacturing technician; manufacturing engineer; manufacturing test engineer; manufacturing quality engineer; maintenance technician; and manufacturing coordinator, supervisor or manager.
Median wages of electrical and electronic equipment assemblers were $29,030 in May 2011, according to the BLS. The middle 50 percent earned between $23,100 and $36,820. Industrial production managers posted median wages of $88,190; the top 10 percent earned nearly $150,000 on average.