Factory boost

Manufacturing was hard hit during the recession, but there is evidence of a rebound over the past couple of years. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden gives a status report on the condition of manufacturing.

“Well, the status report … is that things are looking better. You’re right; manufacturing did take it on the chin. In fact, factory orders went down 50 percent at the low point of the recession: Fifty percent – off 50 percent. That’s amazing.

“Now since then, and this number came in at around mid 2009s, since 2009 factory orders and factory output have both risen. And in fact, we’re now almost back to pre-recessionary levels. And I think before the middle of this year, we will be back.

“Factory jobs have also gained. We’ve seen about 500,000 new factory jobs added to the nation in the last couple of years. And the latest readings actually show an acceleration of activity.

“And I think this is all being driven by a better export market, better household finances and better jobs and pent-up demand by both households and businesses for manufactured products.

“Now again, I don’t want people to think that, oh, we’re going to go back to the heyday of where nationally we employed 20 million people in the factories. That’s not going to return. A lot of those jobs have been replaced by machinery and technology. But overall the manufacturing sector is on the upswing.”


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