Skilled Manufacturing Salaries Gain Ground

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Despite multiple reports of optimism about Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing sector growth rate, the widely publicized quarterly economic indicator report published by Team NEO for the fourth quarter of 2012, further analysis offered by the report’s research team concedes that growth does not translate directly into job growth. The quarterly report cites data from Moody’s, placing the region above the national average for manufacturing sector growth rates. But, the researchers point out that increased production does not guarantee job creation at those same levels.

At least in the short term, manufacturing job growth here in Northeast Ohio does seem to be accompanied by slightly more competitive salaries when compared to national averages (2013 EAA National Wage & Salary Survey). Although the increases are small, only a few percentage points each year, skilled manufacturing positions such as welders and CNC machine center operators are among those that are consistently gaining ground and ultimately becoming more competitive when compared to national averages.

Conversely, lower skill level manufacturing jobs are likely to follow a different, less positive trajectory, one that Plain Dealer reporter Robert Smith explains this way- “Bigger, busier factories will not employ more people. Gains in productivity are expected to cover most of the increased output.”

Smith points out one bright spot in terms of the job openings that will accompany the growth of the manufacturing industry more generally, i.e. the aging factory worker. Longer term, as baby boomers and others begin to retire from their manufacturing jobs, the demand for skilled, experienced workers will hopefully keep demand salaries competitive. However, replacing these long time employees with a new, qualified, skilled workforce may prove challenging here in Northeast Ohio.

Additional Resources

EAA National Wage & Salary Survey
Reports annual salary and wage information for 240,479 employees in 151 managerial, professional, and supervisory; non-exempt hourly and technical; and industrial and production positions from 40 regions of the U.S.  Rates of pay were reported by 23 employers' associations across the U.S. for select jobs drawn from their local surveys.