A Wave of Sewing Jobs as Orders Pile Up at U.S. Factories

The New York Times

Re-Posted from the NYTimes


September 29, 2013
By 

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MINNEAPOLIS — It was past quitting time at a new textile factory here, but that was not the only reason the work floor looked so desolate. Under the high ceilings, the fluorescent lights still bright, there were just 15 or so industrial sewing machines in a sprawling space meant for triple that amount.

The issue wasn’t poor demand for the curtains, pillows and other textiles being produced at the factory. Quite the opposite. The owner, the Airtex Design Group, had shifted an increasing amount of its production here from China because customers had been asking for more American-made goods.

The issue was finding workers.

“The sad truth is, we put ads in the paper and not many people show up,” said Mike Miller, Airtex’s chief executive.

The American textile and apparel industries, like manufacturing as a whole, are experiencing a nascent turnaround as apparel and textile companies demand higher quality, more reliable scheduling and fewer safety problems than they encounter overseas. Accidents like the factory collapse in Bangladesh earlier this year, which killed more than 1,000 workers, have reinforced the push for domestic production.

But because the industries were decimated over the last two decades — 77 percent of the American work force has been lost since 1990 as companies moved jobs abroad — manufacturers are now scrambling to find workers to fill the specialized jobs that have not been taken over by machines.

Wages for cut-and-sew jobs, the core of the apparel industry’s remaining work force, have been rising fast — increasing 13.2 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis from 2007 to 2012, while overall private sector pay rose just 1.4 percent. Companies here in Minnesota are so hungry for workers that they posted five job openings for every student in a new training program in industrial sewing, a full month before the training was even completed.

“It withered away and nobody noticed,” Jen Guarino, a former chief executive of the leather-goods maker J. W. Hulme, said of the skilled sewing work force. “Businesses stopped investing in training; they stopped investing in equipment.”

Like manufacturers in many parts of the country, those in Minnesota are wrestling with how to attract a new generation of factory workers while also protecting their bottom lines in an industry where pennies per garment can make or break a business. The backbone of the new wave of manufacturing in the United States has been automation, but some tasks still require human hands.

Nationally, manufacturers have created recruitment centers that use touch screens and other interactive technology to promote the benefits of textile and apparel work.

Here, they are recruiting at high schools, papering churches and community centers with job postings, and running ads in Hmong, Somali and Spanish-language newspapers. And in a moment of near desperation last year — after several companies worried about turning down orders because they did not have the manpower to handle them — Minnesota manufacturers hatched their grandest rescue effort of all: a program to create a skilled work force from scratch.

Run by a coalition of manufacturers, a nonprofit organization and a technical college, the program runs for six months, two or three nights a week, and teaches novices how to be industrial sewers, from handling a sewing machine to working with vinyl and canvas.

Eighteen students, ranging from a 22-year-old taking a break from college to a 60-year-old former janitor who had been out of work for three months, enrolled in the inaugural session that ended in June. The $3,695 tuition was covered by charities and the city of Minneapolis, though students will largely be expected to pay for future courses themselves.

After the course, the companies, which pay to belong to the coalition, sponsored students for a three-week rotation on their factory floors and a two-week internship at minimum wage. Then the free-for-all began as the members competed to hire those graduates who decide to pursue a career in industrial sewing.

“We need to think practically about getting skilled labor,” said Ms. Guarino, a founder of the training effort, known as the Makers Coalition. “The growth is there but we’re going to be in trouble if we don’t have a pool to draw from.”

Last year, there were about 142,000 people employed as sewing machine operators in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, which had almost 1.75 million workers last year — and where the unemployment rate as of July was 4.9 percent — only 860 were employed in 2012 as machine sewers..

Airtex had room for 50 of them. “We are looking for new sewers every day,” said Mr. Miller, the Airtex executive.

Wooing Immigrant Workers

Airtex’s roots in Minneapolis date to 1918, when Mr. Miller’s grandfather started the Sam Miller Bag Company, specializing in potato and feed bags. In the 1980s, Susan Shields founded a baggage company, and the two combined in 2000 as the Airtex Design Group, producing home textiles for companies like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.

Soon after the merger, the company began producing in China, first in the Dongguan area, then Wuxi and Shanghai. Today, it still employs about 100 Chinese workers through a partner factory in Dongguan, but production there is no longer the bargain it once was, said Ms. Shields, Airtex’s president.

Initially Airtex paid $3 an hour on average for its Chinese workers; now, it pays about $11.80 an hour, including benefits and housing.

Its American factory-floor workers make about $9 to $17 an hour, though Airtex estimates benefits add another 30 percent to those figures.

As costs were rising in China, Airtex was also getting a new message from some of its clients: They wanted more American-made products.

Health care clients wanted medical slings and other sensitive medical products made domestically to ensure quality. Retailers did not want to pay overseas freight costs to import bulky items like pillows, and they wanted more flexibility in turning around designs quickly. As Airtex considered production in Vietnam and elsewhere, it became concerned about safety and quality issues — and increasingly interested in the American alternative.

“The opportunity for domestic business right now is unbelievable,” Ms. Shields said. “Either we start to bring it back here, more of it, or we start going to places that are marginally unsafe.”

But the lack of workers here in Minnesota made shifting business back home frustrating.

It had gotten to the point where new business sometimes felt like a headache, not an opportunity. As Mr. Miller was headed to Chicago for a sales pitch in February, for instance, he was more worried than excited about landing a new contract.

“What concerns me is, if I get it,” he said, “where are we going to find the people?”

In the various waves of American textile production, dating to the 1800s, the problem of an available and willing work force solved itself.

Little capital was required — the boss just needed sewing equipment and people willing to work. That made it an attractive business for newly arrived immigrants with a few dollars to their name and, often, some background in garment work. Typically, the mostly male factory owners would recruit female workers from their old countries for the grunt work.

From the 1840s until the Civil War, it was new arrivals from Ireland and Germany. From the 1880s through the 1920s, it was Russian Jews and Italians, who would buy newly mass-produced Singer sewing machines and often set up shops in their tenement apartments with wives, daughters and tenants making up the initial work force, said Daniel Katz, provost of the National Labor College and author of a book about the garment industry.

Puerto Ricans, who were given citizenship on the eve of American entry into World War I, and black migrants from the South rounded out the work force until the 1960s, when Chinese and Dominican laborers took over, Mr. Katz said.

In San Francisco and New York, a small number of Chinese women came to the United States despite the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 barring Chinese laborers, making up a base of garment workers. After 1965, when immigration restrictions eased and Chinese were allowed to join family members, greater numbers of women came and that pool of workers grew.

“It was pretty well known that basically the day after you landed, you’d be taken to a factory by a relative to learn how to use an industrial sewing machine,” said Katie Quan, associate chair of the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley. In Los Angeles, Latinos made up much of the work force. And in the Carolinas, Hmong immigrants filled textile manufacturing jobs well into the 1990s, halting — or at least delaying — the migration of jobs overseas, said Rachel Willis, an American studies professor at the University of North Carolina.

Now, here in Minnesota, immigrants are once again being seen as the new hope.

Wanted: English and Math

Last fall, Lifetrack, a nonprofit group in St. Paul that helps immigrants, people on welfare and those with disabilities, began screening clients for possible admission to the sewing training program. Inside a gray-green room in a building on the edge of a four-lane road, people gathered around three tables: Burmese women at one of them, Ethiopian men at another, and at the back of the room an African-American woman, then 61, and a white man, 60, both born in America.

The first task was for students to test their English and math proficiency. Language skills are essential so workers can communicate with their bosses, but math skills are just as important in textile work because sewing requires precise measurements. As the students worked on the proficiency tests, Tatjana Hutnyak, Lifetrack’s director of business development, went over the basics.

Starting wages: $12 and $16 an hour. Transportation: The college, Dunwoody College of Technology, is on a bus line, but if students interview with a company not on a bus line, Lifetrack will help them get there. After passing career-readiness tests, students could qualify for the course, which would give them a certificate in industrial sewing — and, ideally, a job.

“They want to have a career rather than packaging, assembling, cleaning jobs,” said a Lifetrack manager, Dagim Gemeda, explaining why clients were interested in the sewing certification.

The Burmese women had come to Minnesota after spending time in refugee camps in Thailand. Paw Done had done piece work, sewing at home while she watched her children. The others had little sewing experience.

The Ethiopian men, who ranged in age from 21 to 42, had been in this country several years. A couple were students, one was a former custodian who had moved from another state to be close to his college-bound son, and a fourth, Abdulhakim Tahiro, had been laid off from his job at an airport car rental kiosk.

“It’s good, for my level it’s good,” Mr. Tahiro said of the starting wages.

Mr. Tahiro and Ms. Done enrolled in the course that started last January, when about half of the class were immigrants. Another student in the course, Patricia Ramon, 56, was an entrepreneur in Mexico with sewing experience. Ms. Ramon already had a job as a sewer at J. W. Hulme, but quit to take the course with the goal of obtaining certification. She wanted proof, she said, that she had technical skills.

“I am not like an old-time seamstress,” Ms. Ramon said. She expects to sew as a career, and said that making $16 an hour with health insurance would be enough to live on.

The students who were not immigrants often had difficult work histories or other problems. One of them was Lawrence Corbesia, the man sitting at the back table during the screening session. He was a former machine operator and custodial worker who had been looking for work for three months.

Another was Edward Johnson, 44, who was homeless when the course started. After food service and call-center jobs, he went to prison for felony assault, and had a tough time finding a job when he got out in 2009. He moved to Wisconsin to pick fruit, moved back to Minneapolis because he hated picking fruit, and was living on the streets and selling watercolor paintings when a homeless-center counselor hooked him up with the sewing program.

Until now, the only sewing experience Mr. Johnson had was sewing on buttons — a punishment meted out by his mother when he misbehaved. To save money, Mr. Johnson walked the 45 minutes to and from the college.

The program was overwhelming at first, he said, “so frustrating that sometimes I’d go home crying.” But he spent days at the library, watching YouTube videos on sewing techniques and studying terms used by the industry. By the end, it had gotten easier, he said, making pajamas, tote bags and aprons.

So many people are on government assistance, he said. “I’d rather learn a trade and go to work — and work,” he said.

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NPR: These are America’s Disappearing Jobs

NPR has a slideshow of the 10 job categories most reduced in number within the last 10 years.

Growing trade deficit with China cost the U.S. economy $37.0 billion in lost wages in 2011

Posted on 30 September 2013 by Ellen Croibier.

Reposted from the Economic Policy InstituteUS China trade gap

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The trade deficit with China cost the U.S. economy $37.0 billion in lost wages in 2011, a new Economic Policy Institute report finds. Annual wage losses will increase if the U.S. trade deficit with China increases, as it did in 2012. In Trading Away the Manufacturing Advantage: China Trade Drives Down U.S. Wages and Benefits and Eliminates Good Jobs for U.S. Workers, EPI Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research Robert E. Scott shows that even when reemployed in non-trade industries, the 2.7 million workers displaced by the U.S. trade deficit with China lost $13,505 per worker in 2011, for a wage loss total of $37.0 billion.

Minorities, in particular, suffered large trade-related wage losses, with net wage losses totaling $10.1 billion.“The displacement of manufacturing and trade-related jobs has been extremely costly for the economy, hitting America’s working families especially hard,” said Scott. “Allowing the U.S.-China trade deficit to continue growing would eliminate many more jobs in manufacturing—a bedrock of the U.S. economy—and further erode the wages of U.S. workers.”Minority workers were particularly hard hit, suffering trade-related wage losses of $10,485 per worker in 2011. For all 958,800 minority workers displaced by growing China trade deficits, net wage losses totaled $10.1 billion per year.Average wages in manufacturing are 16.1 percent higher than average wages in the economy, and 18.4 percent higher than average wages in all other industries. The displacement of these jobs has been particularly hard on workers with a high school degree or less education. Nearly half (47.7 percent) of manufacturing workers have a high school degree or less education.

Access to employer-sponsored health insurance has also declined. More than two-thirds of manufacturing workers (67.8 percent) have employer-sponsored health insurance,15.5 percentage points more than the average “strongly attached” private-sector worker in the total workforce (only 52.3 percent of such workers have employer-sponsored health benefits).

In addition, the U.S.-China trade deficit displaced nearly 1.1 million jobs in computer and electronic equipment between 2001 and 2011, including a large number of high-wage jobs for college educated workers. 52.5 percent of workers in computer and electronics had a bachelor’s degree or more education (compared with 33.8 percent of workers in non-traded goods industries), and nearly three-fourths (74.3 percent) of the workers in this industry earned wages in the top half of the income distribution. Some of the best minority job opportunities in the country were displaced by growing trade deficits with China in the computers and electronic equipment industry between 2001 and 2011. The loss of more than 1 million jobs in computers and electronic equipment between 2001 and 2011 eliminated a net 369,000 good minority jobs (34.7 percent of the jobs displaced in this industry). This was 2.5 percentage points more than the minority share of total U.S. employment (32.2%).

Scott said, “At a time when we are still digging our way out of the recession and good jobs with fair wages are hard to find, policymakers should eliminate China’s currency manipulation and other unfair trade practices, which will greatly reduce the trade deficit and will support creation of millions of good {or: U.S.} jobs in the United States.”

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The Coming Rise Of Women In Manufacturing

By Natalie Schilling – Forbes

Women in MFG

What do you think of when you consider a 10-year-old tech company? Progessive? Egalitarian? Now, how about a 125-year-old manufacturing company? Old-school? Male-dominated? You wouldn’t be alone.

Manufacturing in the US grew by 517,000 jobs from January 2010 to February 2013 according to a report from the National Women’s Law Center. But, since January 2010, women lost more manufacturing roles than they gained. In fact, women’s share of the manufacturing sector is currently just over 27 percent – the lowest level since 1971. This means that while women represent nearly half of the total U.S. labor force, they only constitute approximately a quarter of the U.S. manufacturing workforce. How is this possible when women’s rights in the workplace have come so far over the same time period?

Outdated and often wrong perceptions of manufacturing have impacted women’s desires to join the ranks of manufacturers.  A study fromDeloitte and the Manufacturing Institute cited the perception of a male-favored culture as a key driver of women’s underrepresentation in the industry. There is a sense that historical gender bias excludes women from core managerial roles, such as production supervisors and operations managers, which are key to climbing the industry ladder. Compounding the issue, many people think of manufacturing jobs as dirty, unskilled, back-breaking labor. That’s not the case anymore.

For the past 10 years, I’ve worked in one of the oldest manufacturing companies still in business. I also am a woman, and have been working toward increasing the number of women like me who work in the “traditional” manufacturing industry. That hasn’t always been easy. I’ve heard many women say that manufacturing is too labor-intensive, it won’t give them flexibility to manage their responsibilities at home, or that there is no future in the industry. Not only are these perceptions wrong, by keeping women out of the workforce, they are hurting our country’s future competitiveness.

Why? It’s simple

1.       Women in Manufacturing is Good forBusinessApproximately 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled right now because companies can’t find qualified workers to fill them. Women are critical to filling this gap. Since 2004, a series ofstudies by Catalyst – a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for women in business – found that companies that achieve diversity in their management and on their corporate boards attain better financial results, on average, than other companies.

Catalyst points to many other studies that support these findings as well, including research at the Columbia Business School and the University of Maryland, which found that a higher proportion of women in senior management, not including the CEO, was associated with better firm performance, especially at organizations involved with innovation. McKinsey analysis of large U.S. and Canadian companies found that companies operating in complex environments generated significant returns, amounting to a “robust” 6 percent overall return over a three-year period, when they had a high proportion of women officers, compared to companies with low representation of women officers.

2.    It’s Individual Opportunity. Yesterday’s Rosie the Riveter is today’s Stephanie the Stereolithographer, and more. The vast majority of manufacturing roles created during the past few years aren’t the low-paying, monotonous jobs out of a Dickens novel. These are high-tech, six-figure-paying jobs where women excel. The Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute report reported that over 75 percent of women surveyed agreed that a manufacturing career is interesting and rewarding, emphasizing compensation and opportunities for challenging assignments as the top reasons to stay in the industry.

3.    It’s Part of Chipping Away at the Glass Ceiling. It’s past time to shed the old stereotypes of what kind of person works in manufacturing. Janne Sigurdsson runs Alcoa AA -0.7%‘s smelter in Iceland, which is our lowest-cost and most efficient facility globally. Through clear efforts to increase women at that remote facility, one-third of managers are women. Overall, 22% of the workers are women, and we’re striving for 50%. This kind of success happens because more women in manufacturing attract more women to manufacturing. This is why we need more women in manufacturing today — to show women the huge opportunities in this sector to pave the way for more women in the future, and to ensure the continued success of our manufacturing industry.

Perhaps an even better question, is how do we achieve this?

The good news is that we can make this happen, and the real leadership opportunities are with the manufacturers themselves. We all know that talent development efforts such as increasing STEM education for women is important, but increasing the presence of women in manufacturing is a “push-pull” effort – with the “pull” responsibility lying with the employers themselves. We cannot build supply without first creating a robust demand.

First, we must reframe perceptions of traditional American manufacturing as unprogressive and male-dominated, to high-tech and high-paying, in which both men and women can and do thrive. Next , we need to make sure that manufacturing companies are workplaces organized to support women’s success. Corporate leadership must set aggressive goals to proactively create a diverse employee base.

Part of creating a conducive workplace is cultural. We as manufacturers need to demonstrate that we are responsive to the unique work-life challenges that women – especially women who are or who plan to become mothers – face. We may need to allow flexible work schedules or allow women to manage the speed of their careers depending on their responsibilities outside of work. We also need more men to lead the way toward a more diverse and inclusive manufacturing force. While many male leaders embrace diversity, a recent study on White Men Leading Through Diversity and Inclusion showed that most white male leaders aren’t aware of how far they still need to go when it comes to leading through diversity and inclusion.

Natalie Schilling is a human resources vice president at Alcoa, the world’s leading producer of primary and fabricated aluminum and the world’s largest miner and refiner of bauxite and alumina. Schilling brings 25 years of global human resources experience spanning multiple industries including metals and mining, energy and media.

 

More “Made in U.S.A.” products expected as U.S. manufacturers consider reshoring from China

Original post on Connie Lee, Arirang News. (Asian News)

President Barack Obama has often credited U.S. manufacturers with bringing jobs back to America, as he did back in February during his State of the Union address.

“Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. And this year, Apple will start making Macs in America again.”

Now, just half a year later, the U.S. is seeing more of this trend. Last month, Motorola opened up a new plant in Forth Worth, Texas, to build the nation’s first smartphone.
The plant created more than 2-thousand jobs. Google, which owns Motorola, says using the U.S. workforce is a smart business choice.

“We think this is a very, very safe bet. The reason is the math works. We get much more flexible products and the products themselves have been thoroughly well-reviewed.”

And it looks like more American companies are about to join the so-called “reshoring” movement to bring outsourced jobs back to the U.S. According to a recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group more than half, or 54-percent, of executives at major manufacturing companies say they are considering or planning to bring production back to the U.S from China.
That’s an increase from a year earlier in February 2012, when 37-percent of executives said the same.  The most common reason cited by executives for making this decision is labor costs.

Wages in China have been increasing about 15-to-20 percent per year, whereas wages in the U.S. manufacturing industry have risen less than 2-percent a year since 2011. Meanwhile, the Financial Times also reports that reshoring and rising exports could add up to 1.2 million jobs by the end of the decade but the effect would vary depending on the industry.

Connie Lee, Arirang News.

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An Obituary for the American Middle Class

By Michael Lombardi | Business 2 Community – Sat, Sep 7, 2013 11:50 AM EDT

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It’s the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about…

The middle class in the U.S. economy is on the verge of collapse. Yes, I said collapse. That social class that once helped the U.S. economy grow and prosper is coming apart. Will the U.S. economy ever be the same without it or is this the new norm?

Here’s why it’s important to you.

The middle class helped the U.S. economy (following World War II and up until the credit crisis of 2008) by buying goods and services they needed or wanted. They bought cars, TV sets, furniture, appliances, clothing, computers, and flashy gadgets. In simple terms: they spent money.

The spending by the middle class resulted in American companies selling more, making more, and hiring more people to meet consumer demand. Businesses then took their profits and invested in new projects and built more factories. This is how cities like Detroit flourished.

But where does the middle class of the U.S. economy stand now?

Signs of trouble for the middle class of the U.S. economy actually started to surface at the start of the new century, but it wasn’t until the financial crisis when the middle class in the U.S. economy really started to deteriorate.

Today, the middle class is not buying or spending like it once did—and this is not by choice.

The collapse of the housing market in the U.S. economy has taken a devastating toll on the middle class in this country.

While the media and politicians keep telling us the housing market has turned the corner and is healthy again, the delinquency rate on single-family residential mortgages at all commercial banks in the second quarter of this year stood at 9.41%—that’s 558% higher than the delinquency rate in the first quarter of 2005. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed September 4, 2013.)

If there was such a survey, my bet is it would show middle managers in the U.S. economy are making considerably less today than they did before the financial crisis. And retail sales in the U.S. economy show this. The middle class is moving from mid-tier retail stores like Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE/M) to low-end retailers like the Dollar General Corporation (NYSE/DG).

When presenting his company’s second-quarter earnings, the chairman and CEO of Dollar General, Richard Dreiling, said, “Dollar General delivered another solid quarter. Our same-store sales growth for the second quarter of 2013 accelerated to 5.1%. We are very pleased with the increase in customer traffic in our stores. We continue to grow our market share and believe that our second quarter results position us well to deliver our financial outlook for the year.” (Source: “Dollar General Corporation Reports Record Second Quarter 2013 Financial Results,” Dollar General Corporation web site, September 4, 2013.)

Unlike Dollar General, the executives from Macy’s complained about slower sales in the U.S. economy. (Mind you, Macy’s isn’t the only middle-of-the-road retailer complaining about customer demand.)

This is all happening because the middle class in the U.S. economy is actually earning less, which is something the politicians are not talking about.

Since the beginning of 2000, the rate of change in real disposable income per capita in the U.S. economy (that’s disposable income adjusted for inflation) has been declining.

In the first quarter of 2000, the 12-month rate of change in real disposable income per capita was up 3.2%. In the first quarter of this year, the same statistic was in negative territory—and there was no change in the second quarter. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed September 4, 2013.) The incomes of Americans are actually declining, contrary to what you’d see in periods of economic growth.

When you look at all this, it’s easier to see why cities like Detroit went bankrupt and others are following in its footsteps after registering budget deficits year after year.

Albert Eisenstein said it perfectly: “Insanity is when you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.” We heard from politicians after the financial crisis that they are working to bring growth to the middle class of the U.S. economy. It hasn’t happened. Specifically, I’m talking about how this money printing by the Federal Reserve has failed to help the middle class in this country.

Back in the day, the middle class was the backbone of the U.S. economy because they felt secure; jobs were plentiful and they saw rising incomes.

As it stands today, the U.S. government and our central bank is working to bring “calm” to the deteriorating middle class by keeping interest rates artificially low and by printing trillions of dollars in new money to save them. But unfortunately, the newly created money is finding its way to the big banks that, instead of taking the money and lending it the middle class using softer lending practices, are investing in the stock market. And interest rates, despite the Fed’s actions, are rising quickly.

I wrote during the financial crisis that the devastation from the crisis was so severe that America would be forced to become more like Europe, where the middle class disappeared and there are only the rich and the poor now. That’s a forecast I made five years ago, which with each passing day, unfortunately, comes closer to fruition.

What He Said:

“Starting two years ago I was writing how the housing boom would go bust and cause the U.S. economy to suffer sharply. That’s exactly what is happening today. From what I see happening in the U.S. economy, I’m keeping with the prediction I made earlier this year: By late 2007/early 2008, the U.S. will be in a homemade recession. Hence, I expect housing prices to continue declining, soft auto sales, soft consumer spending, and a lower stock market.” Michael Lombardi in Profit Confidential, August 15, 2007. You would have been hard-pressed to find another analyst predicting a U.S. recession in the summer of 2007. At the time, the stock market was roaring, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting what was then its all-time high of 14,164 in October of 2007.

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Town hall meeting to address “Keep it Made in America”

By 

Rebuilding the manufacturing base and creating jobs in western New York is the focus of a town hall meeting being held in downtown Buffalo Monday night.

It’s called the ‘Keep it Made in America’ Town Hall. And it’s being hosted by the Alliance for American Manufacturing and the United Steelworkers.

The union’s District 4 Director John Shinn says the goal is to help business leaders, organized labor, elected officials, educators and citizens understand the role manufacturing can play in reinvigorating the economy.

“Citizens of the state, when they have these manufacturing jobs, they spend money. It helps the secondary businesses. One dollar paid to a worker in New York state in the manufacturing sector would role over to the area businesses three, four times.”

Shinn says governments can help by enacting policies that guarantee taxpayer funded projects use goods made in the USA. And he says the academic community can help by educating students with the necessary skills to fill jobs.
“There’s a demand for skilled labor positions within manufacturing and also semi-skilled labor positions…We have employers that can’t hire instrument technicians, electricians, welders, pipe fitters…these are good living-wage jobs.”

The meeting includes panel discussions, video presentations and opportunities for audience participation.  It gets underway Monday in Asbury Hall on Delaware Avenue at 6 p.m.

 

 

Source:http://news.wbfo.org/post/town-hall-meeting-address-keep-it-made-america

January Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate Up to 7.9 Percent, 157,000 Jobs Added in January

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Workers lay streetcar track on Loyola Avenue in New Orleans, in this Nov. 8, 2012 photo. (Gerald Herbert/AP Photo)

 

 ABC NEWS

Feb. 1, 2013

The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, as the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent, according to data from the Labor Department.

“This jobs figure today indicates that the engine of the economy  is revving, but the car isn’t going anywhere,” said Tom di Galoma, managing director with financial services firm, Navigate Advisors LLC.

Employment numbers for November were revised higher to 247,000 from 161,000. For December, they were also revised higher to 196,000 from 155,000.

“The uncertainty will be around what happens with government jobs, because the uncertain impact of the fiscal cliff in December may have led to some layoffs in January,” said Kevin Dunning, global economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Even though it was ultimately resolved on Jan. 1, some federal government workers may have been laid off.”

Still, “it looks like hiring has been quite resilient despite all the fiscal uncertainty, and so our expectation is that employment continued to climb in January,” he said.

“But it may be a bit diminished because we’ve had quite a strong trend for the last six months, and we’ve always expected that the fiscal tightening will weigh on the economy in early 2013. So, our thought will be that there will be slightly slower job growth than we got used to in the second half of 2012.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report, for the week ending Jan. 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 368,000, an increase of 38,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 330,000. The four-week moving average was 352,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 351,750.

Stephen Bronars, a senior economist with Welch Consulting in Washington D.C. cautions people not to “overreact” to January’s jobs report.

“Careful observers examine the size of the seasonal adjustment. January is a very difficult month for the BLS to forecast,” he said.

Typically, payroll falls by 2.8 million between December and January because of seasonal workers’ leaving jobs after the holidays, he said. But a report released Thursday by payroll provider ADP noted that private-sector employment increased by 192,000 for January 2013, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

This report, which does not include government or public jobs data, noted that goods-producing employment increased by 15,000 jobs in January, primarily fueled by a 15,000 increase in construction jobs. Manufacturing jobs, however, were down by 3,000.

Service jobs, including restaurant workers, health care workers, housekeepers, teachers and retail sales positions, increased by 177,000, with professional/business services adding 40,000 jobs for the month. the ADP report said. Trade/transportation/utilities added 33,000 jobs, and financial services added 12,000 jobs.

Businesses with 49 or fewer employees added 115,000 jobs in January, according to the ADP report. Employment levels among medium-size companies, that is, those with 50 to 499 employees, rose by 79,000, while employment at companies with 500 or more employees fell by 2,000.

Carlos A. Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP, said in a statement that private sector employers created an average of 183,000 new jobs per month during the past three months, “an encouraging sign of steady improvement in the job market.”

Economist Bronars noted that in January 2012, nonfarm payroll grew by 275,000 after seasonal adjustment (even though unadjusted payroll declined by 2.67 million), the biggest single month gain in the past 30 months.

“Even though jobs are being created, people who gave up searching for work are coming back into the labor force and will be counted as unemployed until they find work,” Bronars said.

ABC News’ Abby Ellin contributed to this report.

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Manufacturers and businesses struggle to find skilled workers

Skilled Workers

Job seekers attend a Career Source mixed-industry job fair at the Holiday Inn in Somerville on Nov. 27, 2012.

BOSTON — Dozens of people walked around a recent Somerville job fair handing out resumes. There was Jim Lundy, 53, an English teacher with a Ph.D. and 30 years of experience. When he could not find a teaching job, he started a business that sells used blue jeans, but has been unsuccessful. There was Isabel Sendao, 38, who lost her job in marketing and sales a year and a half ago and is keeping current on the latest technology while interviewing for jobs. There was Sandy Carr, 51, who worked at non-profit and social service jobs for three decades. She was laid off when a medical billing firm went under and has been doing temporary and contract work until she can find something full-time.

“Job searching’s a constant thing to be doing these days,” Carr said.

At the same time, there are businesses in Massachusetts looking for workers. Denise Petersen, who works in human resources for B&E Precision Aircraft Components in Southwick, said her company is looking for computer numerically controlled machinists and burr hands, a type of skilled laborer. The company is competing with other local tool companies and having a hard time finding workers with the necessary skills. “As experienced or skilled workers leave, it’s getting more difficult to find people in those areas that have experience,” Petersen said.

The “skills gap” is a fact of life in the recovering economy. Jobs are opening up and workers are seeking them. But the unemployed workers do not always have the same skills that employers are looking for. In some cases, industries have shifted during the recession, some recovering faster than others. In other cases, the recession actually delayed the skills gap, as older workers pushed off retirement. With the recovery, some of those workers are preparing to leave.

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FDA Says Brazil’s Orange Juice Is Safe, But Still Illegal

 

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

NPR      by DAN CHARLES  February 22, 2012

If you happen to notice sometime later this year that you’re suddenly paying a lot more for orange juice, you can blame America’s food safety authorities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several weeks of deliberation, has blocked imports of frozen, concentrated orange juice from Brazil, probably for the next 18 months or so, even though the agency says the juice is perfectly safe.

The FDA’s explanation is that its hands are legally tied. Its tests show that practically all concentrated juice from Brazil currently contains traces of the fungicide carbendazim, first detected in December by Coca-Cola, maker of Minute Maid juices. The amounts are small — so small that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says no consumers should be concerned.

The problem is, carbendazim has not been used on oranges in the U.S. in recent years, and the legal permission to use it on that crop has lapsed. As a result, there’s not a legal “tolerance” for residues of this pesticide in orange products. Read more of this post

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