The U.S. economy has been hard to predict and even more difficult to keep consistent over the past few years, but according to economist Chris Kuehl, manufacturing can help the country prosper. Kansas City Business Journal reporter James Dornbrook said Kuehl, an economist with Armada Corporate Intelligence, spoke at a recent manufacturing summit and said the industry is still the most powerful in the world. Organizations here have access to warehouse management systems and other new technology that can help keep them efficient and productive around the clock.
While Kuehl said there is a popular sentiment that China and other countries are taking over the power in global manufacturing, he said this is simply false. The value of what is produced in the U.S. dwarves that of which is made anywhere else, he said, as the country creates the machines and technology that other countries use.
Manufacturing has the size and strength in the U.S. to push the economy forward even more, but there are some obstacles that must be overcome, Kuehl said. First, the shortage of workers in the industry is almost at what he calls "crisis levels," as there is a disconnect between the country's education system and business community. There also should be better regulations on the industry to help manufacturing businesses grow instead of shrink, he told the crowd. Organizations also need help accessing new markets around the world and protection against countries that aren't following free-trade rules.
Growth still coming
Reuters reported that U.S. manufacturing grew last month at its fastest rate in about two and a half years, but China is also expanding. However, China is moving at a slower rate than many expected, leaving room for the U.S. manufacturing business to pick up a bit. The news source said the U.S. economy has growth 2.5 percent in the second quarter, with manufacturing gaining momentum after shrinking as recently as May.
Times are seemingly good right now, as The Institute for Supply Management said the index of national factory activity was at its highest mark since April 2011, with firms adding the most new workers in the last 15 months. Most parts of the developed world are seeing improvement in this sector, according to experts, a great sign for economies in general.
"We're certainly seeing the developed world economies pick up, and I'm still feeling pretty positive that they will continue to improve," said Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management in Toronto.
Technology driven companies poised for improvement
The Wall Street Journal said for large companies, manufacturing technology means new tools to help build smarter and keep factories running more productively. Warehouse management systems, as well as tools for smarter use of data, are now available to a wider array of businesses than ever. This allows organizations to do more with less and create innovations that can help shape the future of the market.
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