S.A. Manufacturing Sector Booming, Wages and Employment Rising

The New State Of The Art Ford Production Line

The annual report from the San Antonio Manufacturers Association shows manufacturing, of items ranging from Toyota trucks to medical supplies to food products, is booming in San Antonio, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

SAMA President Rey Chavez told manufacturers meeting at the San Antonio Country Club that manufacturing now has a $40 billion impact on the metro San Antonio economy.

"Manufacturing has grown significantly, production is high, orders are up and hiring is being done," he said.

What is now termed 'advanced manufacturing' or 'high tech manufacturing' is now the second largest industry in metro San Antonio in terms of economic impact.

Chavez says a strong manufacturing sector indicates a strong community, largely because the 52,000 people who work in manufacturing in the metro make good incomes.

"Great wages," he said.  "In fact, you are going to find in the study it is 23% higher than the average San Antonio salary."

Economists agree that manufacturing is a solid contributor of the economic growth of any community, because most manufactured goods are exported to other parts of the USA or around the world, bring money into the metro. 

As Chavez put it, 'everything you have has been built.'Chavez said politicians who claim that manufacturing in the United States is dead are 'ignorant' and don't understand the key role manufacturing plays in boosting the U.S. economy.

Among the factors given for the strong resurgence of manufacturing in San Antonio and across the country include the lower price of natural gas.  Natural gas is the fuel of choice for manufacturing facilities, and the low cost due to the shale expansion has given U.S. manufacturers a cost edge over other countries.

They also cite a desire to produce products closer to the consumers, which are generally in the U.S.  That cuts down on transportation costs and the expensive logistics of transportation.

Also cited is uncertainty in many countries which previously were attractive destinations for offshoring manufacturing.  China, for example, as it builds its middle class, is raising wages, further eroding the 'low cost advantage' that many companies used to attract U.S. manufacturing jobs in the 1970s.  Also, the example set by nations like Venezuela, where many U.S. manufacturing facilities have been seized by the government, are making many companies think twice about locating plants in unstable Third World countries.

Chavez says something else driving manufacturing is the fact that young people are warming to the lure of the pay and the new high tech attractions of today's manufacturing facilities, which are a far cry from the greasy monotonous assembly lines of the 1950s.

"We're getting the word out to young people that a career in manufacturing is not a bad deal especially with the salary," Chavez said.  "Plus, you can get in with a two year degree because it is advanced manufacturing. This is not your grandfather's manufacturing."

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