Reinvigorating the manufacturing sector has long been a stated priority in the American labor force, often taking a front seat in election years like 2020. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2000 into 2020, manufacturing employment has followed a remarkably consistent trend line.
Unemployment as a result of shutdowns due to the global pandemic COVID-19 resulted in a precipitous dip in manufacturing employment, from approximately 12.8 million nationwide to around 11.5 million. As some jobs have returned from the initial wave of closures, manufacturing has seen one of the more significant surges among all industries, climbing back over 12 million through June 2020.
Fueling manufacturing's quick rebound at a pace that exceeds post-Great Recession recovery are machinery and transportation equipment. However, the manufacturing sector is also seeing hiring increases amid the pandemic due to its own efforts in combating the pandemic.
A report by the Pew Research Center finds that manufacturers have shifted focus to produce high-demand protective items, like protective shields and PPE masks. Meanwhile, 24/7 Wall Street reported that based on Census Bureau data, manufacturing inventory rose by 8.4 million month-to-month heading into the summer.
Manufacturing jobs' importance in the coming months will be underscored prominently, both in terms of producing COVID-preventing goods and commensurate with other industries' employment rates.