Growing Manufacturing in Memphis?

Related article: How Memphis Stacks up as Manufacturing Jobs Grow, Feb. 28, 2017.  Available online at:  http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2017/02/27/how-memphis-stacks-up-as-manufacturing-jobs-grow.html.

The answer to the question is “yes” but, it also depends upon the period.  As is the case with the nation, manufacturing employment has been shrinking in the Memphis MSA for decades.  However, in the past few years there has been some growth.  Since 2011 manufacturing jobs grew by 3.0% in the Memphis MSA.  Nationally the recent growth is attributable to many factors including reshoring, or, American companies moving jobs back to the US from overseas to take advantage of expected long-term differences in exchange rates, consumer sentiment, relative political and economic stability, and greater productivity of the US workforce.

Will this trend continue?  In the short-run, yes.  But, the long-term the outlook for manufacturing employment is negative, especially as advances in technology boosts productivity thereby allowing manufacturers to produce more with fewer employees. A suggestion to manufacturing employees: if you haven’t already done so, learn a skill or trade and/or get a formal education.  Doing so substantially increases the odds of your having a job long-term.

Jeff Wallace, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor

Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research

The University of Memphis