News August 2017 Volume 5
Workforce and Manufacturing Analytics Newsletter
 
Off the sidelines and back in the game. The labor participation rate is holding and actually increasing, reversing some long-term trends. Good for filling jobs, but might have a dampening effect on wage growth, too. But the majority of workers don't worry about technology affecting their job. Their top worry: loss of benefits.
     
 
Here is an argument that seems to make sense. When wages go up, automation becomes a more attractive option for employers, especially when they go up significantly (like to $15 / hour minimum wage).
     
 
Key sector metrics still positive in July reports the Institute for Supply Management. Three main gauges - the factory index, employment and new orders - stay strong.

Workforce challenges are top priority in sector (see graphic on the left) and over 2/3 of manufacturers plan to add headcount (Sikich 2017 Manufacturing Report).

One reason for this optimism: weakening US dollar which makes manufacturers' exports more competitive in foreign markets. YTD: dollar down 8%, exports up 7%.
Automation is a big topic, especially in manufacturing. But let's drill down; what specific tasks are most automated now?

Another technology application not yet getting the level of attention of robotics: Augmented Reality (AR). This might be as promising to manufacturers as it has positive implications on both the skills gap and operations efficiencies.

Automobile production fell 3.6% in July, the fourth decline in teh last five months. This sector had been a bright spot in recent years. And it has a ripple effect throughout the supply chain of parts makers.
     
Keith Wisner, Vice President - Workforce & Supply Chain Analytics.