Manufacturing industry expands after years of layoffs

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — In the heart of north Texas, Made in America is a daily ritual.

Heather Kincannon is a group leader in quality at General Motors’ Arlington Assembly Plant, GM’s bustling plant that has produced more than 12 million vehicles since it opened in 1954.

Today, it churns out about 1,300 SUVs a day.

“It is very rewarding seeing the product go out the door,” Kincannon said. “We are a facility with a high-demand product and we can`t build enough of these. Six days a week we’re running, and yes we always need more quality people.”

Kincannon is one of the millions of workers who work in the manufacturing industry, where jobs are on the rise across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are now close to 12.9 million jobs in manufacturing, almost 100,000 more than before the pandemic.

Many experts say it’s demand that’s driving the trend.

“When we couldn’t travel during COVID, we couldn’t go out, we couldn’t buy services, so we bought goods,” economist Rebecca Ryan said.

Some of those goods include cars or tools.

Klein Tools in Mansfield, Texas, is known for its pliers.

“This stuff doesn’t just appear on the shelves. It has to be made, and the more we can make here in the US it’s making it easier for people,” said Patrick Anderegg, operations manager at Klein Tools.

The pandemic exposed supply chain constraints, and many companies have tried to move production back home, a trend that may stick around for a while.

“They have started to factor in economic slowdown in their current planning, so I think this is a hunker opportunity for a lot of American manufacturers,” Ryan said.

Like any other industry, the challenge is attracting new hires.

“You don’t need any prior experience,” to work at Klein Tools, Anderegg said. “You can start here as an operator fresh out of high school and work yourself up with different roles and different experiences.”

Back at GM, Kincannon says she originally wanted to pursue a career in criminal justice but took a job in manufacturing and has never looked back.

“Give it a chance, you might not realize what a good fit you are,” Kincannon said.

The National Association of Manufacturers says factory workers on average made around $81,000 in pay and benefits.

Another note: The cost of college today is enormous, and a recent report shows enrollment nationwide has declined for three years in a row.

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