Are we flying?
I enjoyed reading your “In the loop” column in the May issue (Fly like an eagle). We always see data showing the unemployment rate as being good, but manufacturing jobs continuing to decline, especially here in the Midwest. What I would like to hear in magazines and newspapers is this: We are a very productive nation, so productive that although we represent only 5% of the world's population, we represent 25% of the world's goods and services (our GDP). It angers me when I hear that we are a wasteful and plundering nation that uses 25% of the world's resources and/or produces 25% of the “greenhouse gas!” If we produce 25% of the world's goods and services, why wouldn't we use the same proportion of natural resources?
Where are the wages going?
Regarding your question as to why the state of manufacturing in the U.S. has a negative portrayal (“In the loop,” May 2007), I would suggest that the lack of real wage growth and continued loss of health and retirement benefits might be the reason. I agree that a good measure of productivity is the expansion of wages and benefits. The question is, whose wages and benefits. I can say that my personal productivity has increased, due to experience and increased computer capacity. I do FEA and structural design and analysis. We are able to do minimal rework of prototypes and sometimes even avoid prototypes while having competent designs both structurally and economically. We make fewer errors and turn out our design and test processes faster than ever. Our facility is building as much product as in the past with fewer workers.
Meanwhile I, along with my colleagues, pay more out of pocket and receive less medical, retirement, and disability benefits. My wages have not kept pace with inflation, let alone professional growth. Part of this may be related to my choice to remain in my existing community instead of restarting elsewhere, but the facts remain. I suspect some are benefiting from the gains in manufacturing, but I do not think it is the typical wage earner. This reflects more of a moral issue than a business one and does not come as a surprise.
New Philadelphia, Ohio