A growing number of manufacturing companies are using highly advanced technologies to complete their work, in turn driving demand for skilled workers and helping the state's economy surge ahead, SeaCoast Online reports.
According to the media outlet, the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies (NHCPPS) recently showed that the smart manufacturing/high technology sector has created a robust industry full of large companies, such as Albany Engineered Composites and arms maker Sig Sauer. Together with other manufacturing companies, these firms have led to a jump in economic growth and health.
"These companies are raising the bar by merging information technology and manufacturing innovation to develop new, high quality products and components," said Ross Gittell, the chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire.
This new age of manufacturing has given rise to a new industry vernacular and a revised approach to hiring new workers, and has also put an emphasis on the skill and number of workers that are hired. Essentially, the new plants are far from the mass production facilities that were rampant across the country 50 years ago, Gittel said. What these new factories - all 3,700 in the country - bring to the table is a major boost in scale and focus.
"They can't compete in mass production because lower wage, lower skill countries can be found," Gittell explained. "But they can and do compete well with specialized work to make high-quality components for the aerospace, auto or defense industries."
The news provider stated that the new manufacturing industry involved companies that turn materials into new products by marrying extremely advanced technology with a labor force that has the skills needed to operate such a equipment. Smart factories currently make up 9 percent of private sector businesses, however advanced manufacturing staffing makes up about 15 percent of the private sector workforce - more than healthcare, professional services and the travel and tourism sectors.
What's more, jobs at these factories pay even higher salaries than previous manufacturing gigs. In 2009, smart manufacturing facilities employed nearly 80,00 people, with an average wage of about $1,200 per week, according to the NHCPPS report. These companies paid a total of $6.4 billion in wages and benefits that year, compared with $3.7 billion in 1990, despite the number of manufacturing jobs in the state falling from 109,000 to 80,000 in that period.
New Hampshire manufacturers have been able to produce more industrial output in the last 20 years with even fewer industry employees.
Outside of New Hampshire, the federal government is supporting advanced manufacturing by raising awareness of education, innovation and the need for more training. According to Gittel, the low-skill manufacturing jobs of the 20th century will likely be replaced in the future by jobs that require advanced skills in computers, technology, science and math.
The high-tech manufacturing sector is still a part of the overall U.S. manufacturing industry, which has been driving the economic recovery for months on end. The most recent employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that manufacturing staffing continued its upward trend in July, adding 25,000 jobs, nearly all of which were in the durable goods manufacturing sector.
Within durable goods manufacturing, the automotive and vehicle parts sector saw the largest employment growth, adding 13,000 new jobs. Fabricated metals employment also ticked up, adding another 5,000 jobs last month.