It isn’t often that Thomas “the mustache of understanding” Friedman contributes much to increase my understanding of globalization or manufacturing in this country, but last week was an exception. Mind you, it wasn’t anything he wrote, rather it as an article he provided a link to it in his latest drivel that appeared in the New York Times. The article was in the Atlantic and was titled “Making it in America.” The article examined one firm, Standard Motor Parts, that makes after market parts for cars. I won’t run through the article in detail, but I would really encourage you to take the time to read it because it very clearly discusses some of the challenges we face in increasing manufacturing employment in this country. The two big challenges are the continuing trend of machinery and computers to replace workers in the manufacturing process and the decline in employment opportunities for people who lack specific skills and training.
The manufacturing sector in this country still employs 11 million people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the manufacturing sector “comprises establishments engaged in the mechanical, physical, or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components into new products.” Manufactured goods are classified using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Manufactured goods can be in one of 21 NAICS subsectors. In my blog I have been focussing on non-food consumer goods, primarily apparel (NAICS 315), cars (NAICS 336), computer and electronics (NAICS 334), appliances (NAICS 335), and furniture (NAICS 337). It is unclear to me whether the admonitions contained in the Atlantic article would apply across the board to all these manufacturing enterprises, but I will be looking into it and will be getting back to you on that question.
Friedman’s latest piece, Average is over, is more of the same from the world’s leading cheer leader for the joys of globalization. Rather than have a go myself, I would direct you to a post by Jason Linkens of the Huffington post on Friedman’s latest effort. It is very funny.