Economy

The world of manufacturing has changed dramatically since the beginning of the 21st century. Roughly 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the U.S. since 2000. But the president of the National Association of Manufacturers, Jay Timmons, is still bullish on manufacturing’s future.

Timmons is touring Kentucky this week to talk with students and employees about the future of manufacturing. I spoke with him and you can listen listen to our conversation in the media player above.

On the slow turn around in manufacturing jobs:

“The good news is we’ve seen a resurgence of manufacturing jobs over the course of the last eight years or so. And last year in particular, 2017, we’ve seen a great deal of optimism from manufacturers who are benefiting from the tax legislation, regulatory relief and hopefully we’ll see this year some infrastructure investment.

“So manufacturers are hiring and they are expanding and they’re investing in new plants and facilities and they are raising wages and benefits. So it’s a good time to be a manufacturing worker in America.”

On how technology is changing manufacturing work:

“How people work is actually shifting because of technology and that’s really good news because workplaces are safer, they’re more efficient. But you still need humans — even if you have robotics that are helping them do the more menial and labor intensive jobs at manufacturing facilities. So you still need the human element and we predict you’ll need even more. Right now you’ve got 364,000 jobs in manufacturing that are open because, frankly, we can’t find people with the right skills.”

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for WFPL News.