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Manufacturing In A Changing Job Market

By Steve Rensberry, Editor

Manufacturing has been in the spotlight lately, with Southwestern Illinois University among several entities who are striving to bridge the gap between regional manufacturers, job speakers and students. It’s been tough going in recent months, partly because of a record low  unemployment rate, partly because of continued misconceptions about manufacturing jobs and related careers, and partly because of plain old uncertainty in the markets. “Our goal is to show students and the community what great opportunities are available in technical education at SWIC and that there is an abundance of well-paying, secure careers in manufacturing right here in the Metro East,” SWIC Dean of Technical Education Brad Sparks said in a news release about an Oct. 4 Manufacturing Day celebrating at the institution.

Record low unemployment numbers suggest it’s not just job manufacturers who may be feeling the labor pinch. According to the latest report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the August unemployment rate in the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area stood at just 3.8 percent, a drop of 1 percent from the August 2018 rate of 4.8 percent.

Over the course of the year, government jobs in the state have increased by more than 3,000 workers, mining and construction by more than 300, professional and business services by more than 300, leisure and hospitality by more than 100, and manufacturing by more than 200.

Decreases in employment this year have been seen in transportation, warehousing and utilities (down 500), financial activities (down 300), retail trade (down 200), information (down 100) and educational and health services (down 100).

I don’t know what your crystal ball is telling you, but mine’s telling me there’s a tremendous amount of potential for growth out there, just waiting to be tapped. More power to those who are working to keep us on an upward trajectory.

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