Manufacturing increased in 2013 with help from a strong year for automobile sales, but jobs may not grow in lockstep with that expansion as factories increasingly automate their assembly lines.
Factory orders increased by .6 percent to 64.2 percent during 2013 compared to 2012, which is the highest reading since April 2010 as measured by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The ISM employment index, which covers factories in 18 manufacturing industries, rose .4 percent to 56.9 percent, which is the highest reading since June 2011.
Factory demand grew in part because of the rise in sales for four of the largest automakers in the U.S. during 2013. Ford Motor Co.'s annual U.S. sales increased 11 percent during 2013, and General Motors Co.'s sales in the U.S. increased 7 percent. Chrysler Group LLC saw its sales rise 9 percent compared with 2012, while Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. sales during 2013 climbed 7 percent.
Good news like this once meant a rush to hire new workers, but in the coming years companies likely will plan more automated factories as robotic technology improves.
The Obama administration has cited that 500,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created in the U.S. since February 2010; however, 2.8 million total manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last decade. More than 7.5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since the late 1970s.