Manufacturing Day – A Celebration of Innovation & Problem Solving
October 7, 2016
By Michael Shue, Senior Vice President, Client Relations
Today is Manufacturing Day, a day to reflect on the greatness of our American manufacturers and all the contributions they make toward delivering on the promise of the middle class.
And make no mistake, American manufacturing powers the middle class. The average American manufacturing worker earned $79,553 in 2014, compared to $64,204 for workers across industries. There are currently 12.3 million American manufacturing workers, accounting for 9 percent of the workforce. Taken together, American manufacturers contributed $2.17 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2015, up from $1.70 trillion in 2009, and accounting for 12.1 percent of American GDP.
One of the reasons American manufacturing has grown over the last two decades is due to technology—innovations that solve problems and make millions of lives better. Consider that more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development (R&D) in the country is attributed to American manufacturers, driving more innovation than any other sector, and accounting for about $229.9 billion in 2014, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Rooted in a proud history of solving problems, American manufacturers are increasingly building products and delivering solutions that are solving complex problems today. Consider the increasingly clean energy being developed by our scientists and engineers that is leading to a revolution in our power sector. Consider the transportation and infrastructure challenges facing America in the 21st century, and how the automotive sector is driving wholescale changes through autonomous vehicles. And go beyond that, to the aerospace sector, as we once again reach for the stars.
A major leader in the power of manufacturing to solve today’s most pressing challenges is GE. More than 50 years ago, GE invested in UNIVAC, the first computer deployed commercially in the U.S., which at the time was the size of a garage and weighed 30,000 pounds. Not bad for an oversized calculator. And yet without GE relying on the UNIVAC for business data processing, where would business be today? This game changer may “eventually be recorded by historians as the foundation of the second industrial revolution.” Today, GE bills itself as the world’s premier digital industrial company and continues leading the reinvestment in America’s manufacturing sector—everything from cutting-edge, low-energy water heaters to high-tech French-door refrigerators produced here at home. And they’re doing it by thinking outside the box when it comes to technology, blurring the line between tech and manufacturing, while competing on the global stage.
We look at major automobile manufacturers aggressively moving towards autonomous vehicles (AVs)—and they’re doing it through partnerships with companies that are re-defining how Americans move about the country. General Motors has partnered with Lyft to produce a fleet of driverless cars; Volvo has partnered with Uber to bring AVs to the streets of Pittsburgh; and Ford has announced its line of AVs will come to market by 2021. These shifts are going to fundamentally transform transportation for millions of Americans—and with it, our infrastructure needs are going to change in a fundamental way.
But let’s go beyond automobiles and look at the aerospace industry, which introduced us to visionaries whose pursuit of space travel has recaptured our collective imagination. It’s no accident that NASA earlier this year made its library of retro space travel posters available online for free download, hoping to inspire the next generation of innovators and explorers. American manufacturing supports the aerospace industry with hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars contributing to the American economy. And it’s doing it today while capturing the imagination of the art of the possible—innovating, creating, building, and implementing here in the U.S., and affording American ingenuity the opportunity to take us to the stars.
American manufacturing is reigniting our creativity while solving problems and creating opportunities for millions of American workers. Today, on Manufacturing Day, we say thank you to America’s manufacturers for making our future a little brighter.