Labor & Employment

Workforce

Manufacturing Job Openings Rise, Total Openings Fall

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August saw a reduction in the number of available jobs for the first time in four months, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, Reuters reports. However, manufacturing job openings rose that month, NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray tells us.

Manufacturing: According to Moutray, “Manufacturing job openings in August reached 460,000, up from 430,000 in July and the best reading since July 2019 (477,000). This improvement suggests that firms are once again increasing their interest in adding new workers, even as the sector attempts to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic and the overall labor market has changed dramatically.”

Overall economy: The picture for the overall economy isn’t as strong:

  • Job openings fell to 6.49 million—a decrease of 204,000.
  • The job openings rate fell to 4.4% from 4.6% in the prior month.
  • The number of people leaving their jobs voluntarily was 2.79 million in August—down 139,000 from the month before.

About half of the jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic have not yet been recovered.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Put Forward Bold Actions to Close Opportunity Gap and Transform Industry Workforce

Task Force of Industry Leaders Identify and Offer Next Steps

Washington, D.C. – Following the industry’s June “Pledge for Action,” the National Association of Manufacturers brought industry leaders together to focus on recommending bold next steps manufacturers can take to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities in America.

The Task Force on Closing the Opportunity Gap has put forth actions that will transform the industry workforce: By 2025, manufacturers commit to taking 50,000 tangible actions to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities, creating 300,000 pathways to job opportunities for Black people and all people of color. In doing so, manufacturing will reflect the diversity of the overall U.S. workforce by 2030.

The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s workforce development and education partner, will collect individual commitments from companies to ensure that the goal of 50,000 actions is met by 2025 and that the industry reaches its diversity goals by 2030. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons affirmed the commitment on behalf of the industry.

Timmons, Trane Technologies Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Mike Lamach and Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee made the following statements on this landmark initiative.

“Our industry plays an integral role in lifting up people and communities,” said Lamach, “and now we have a special obligation to stand with and support all people who face injustice. We must play a part in tearing down the persistent and pernicious structural barriers to opportunity in this country.”

“I am proud to make this commitment on behalf of the industry and thank Mike and the task force for their leadership. As manufacturers across America redouble our efforts to build more inclusive and equitable workplaces and communities, we will be the catalyst for even greater change,” said Timmons. “We can spark a chain reaction for equity—that makes our businesses more successful, our communities stronger and our nation one that truly guarantees ‘liberty and justice for all.’”

“Not only are manufacturers making a bold promise, but they are also committing to be held accountable,” said Lee. “The Manufacturing Institute will collect individual commitments from companies, support their efforts with key resources and track the industry’s progress in creating these opportunities and pathways over the coming years to ensure we reach our 2030 target.”

Background on the Task Force: On June 11, the NAM’s Executive Committee unanimously approved the 11-point “Pledge for Action to advance justice, equality and opportunity for Black people and all people of color. The Task Force on Closing the Opportunity Gap’s commitment, announced today, follows through on elements of the “Pledge for Action.”

Members of the task force include the following:

  • Task Force Chair: Mike Lamach, chairman and CEO, Trane Technologies and NAM Board chair
  • Dev Ahuja, SVP and CFO, Novelis Inc.
  • Alejandro Alvarez, SVP, chief production officer and sustainability officer, Brown-Forman Corporation
  • Neil Chapman, senior vice president, Exxon Mobil Corporation
  • Julie Copeland, CEO, Arbill
  • Mark Cordova, president, Centennial Bolt, Inc.
  • Chris Edwards, Co-CEO, Edward Marc Brands, Inc.
  • Jim Fitterling, chairman and CEO, Dow Inc. and NAM Board vice chair
  • Vicki Holt, president and CEO, Protolabs and NAM Small and Medium Manufacturers Group vice chair
  • Frederick Humphries, corporate VP, U.S. government affairs, Microsoft Corporation
  • Vimal Kapur, president and CEO, Honeywell Building Technologies
  • Lawrence Kurzius, chairman, president and CEO, McCormick & Company, Inc.
  • Mike McDermott, president, Pfizer global supply, Pfizer, Inc.
  • Aneesa Muthana, president and CEO, Pioneer Service Inc.
  • Chris Nielsen, EVP – product support and chief quality officer, Toyota Motor North America
  • Quentin Roach, SVP – global supply chain and chief procurement officer, Mondelez International
  • Kathy Wengel, EVP, chief global supply chain officer, Johnson & Johnson
  • Chris Womack, president, external affairs, Southern Company

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.1 million men and women, contributes $2.36 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

Policy and Legal

Labor Department Announces Contractor Rule

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The U.S. Department of Labor announced a rule that would classify gig workers as contractors rather than employees, according to The New York Times (subscription).

The rule: The new rule identifies two main factors as determinants of whether a person should be classified as a contractor or an employee.

  • The first is how much a company controls the way a worker performs his or her job.
  • The second is how much a worker can profit based on initiative, as opposed to earning a steady salary regardless of performance.

The upshot: The rule could likely shift the employment status of millions of Americans, including many in manufacturing. If they use contractors, companies do not have to pay the minimum wage, overtime, a portion of social security taxes, or unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

A word from the NAM: “When finalized, the rule could solidify the use of independent contractors, including in manufacturing. Independent contractor arrangements benefit companies and workers by increasing flexibility and streamlining the human resources processes,” explains NAM Director of Labor and Employment Policy Drew Schneider. He adds:

  • “Manufacturers are currently operating under a confusing patchwork of state and federal laws that have defined independent contractors in numerous ways, causing legal uncertainty and unnecessary compliance costs.”
  • “Manufacturers and their business partners will benefit from a clear and updated independent contractor standard that protects this important business practice and allows NAM members to focus on producing America’s essential goods and services.”
Press Releases

Manufacturers Survey Finds Broad Usage of PPP, Main Street Lending Programs

As Challenges Remain, Optimism Begins to Rebound

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers has released its third quarter Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, which shows strong use of liquidity programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and Main Street Lending Program.

Of the 82.7% of respondents who say COVID-19 had or will have a negative impact on their cash flow, 72.1% noted they had obtained funds through the Paycheck Protection Program, Main Street Lending Program or other liquidity programs—especially small manufacturers. More importantly, of those firms taking advantage of such programs, 91.6% reported that those funds helped keep their business afloat, retain their workforce or meet other necessary expenses. Knowing how critical this was for the industry, the NAM called for these programs and subsequent expansions in its “COVID-19 Policy Action Plan Recommendations” and “American Renewal Action Plan.”

Manufacturing optimism has also rebounded to 66% since the second quarter of 2020, when it had the worst reading since the Great Recession. Still, the outlook remains below the historical average of 74.4%, and 62% of manufacturers expect their firm’s revenues will not get back to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2021 or later.

“Congress and the administration have acted on more than five dozen of the policy provisions that the NAM made in our ‘American Renewal Action Plan’ and other recommendations,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Without the bipartisan relief legislation signed into law earlier this year, this rise in optimism would not have been possible. But for our industry to truly recover and to keep our economy growing, further bipartisan congressional action is needed.”

Read the full survey results here.

Background: In March, the NAM released its “COVID-19 Policy Action Plan Recommendations,” which guided earlier relief legislation. In April, the NAM released its “American Renewal Action Plan,” and Congress and the administration have acted on many of its provisions. To date, 60 provisions from the NAM’s plans have been adopted.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.1 million men and women, contributes $2.36 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Seek to Immediately Halt Administration’s Unlawful Visa Restrictions with Injunction

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers released this statement after filing a motion for preliminary injunction in federal court today. The motion would call for an immediate hold on a series of damaging visa restrictions that prevent manufacturers from filling crucial, hard-to-fill jobs to support economic recovery, growth and innovation when we most need it.

“These unlawful visa restrictions hurt manufacturers and their workers at a time when we need driven, high-skilled innovators more than ever,” said NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly. “Destroying the investments we have made to find and grow talent will only stifle American innovation while serving up crucial talent and a competitive advantage to other nations on a silver platter. We are asking the court to put an immediate stop to this bad policy. We know our case is strong, and we must prevent irreparable harm to American manufacturing while we await our day in court.”

To read the motion for preliminary injunction, click here.

NOTE: Last week, the NAM was joined by industry associations representing much of the American economy in filing a lawsuit in federal court opposing the Trump administration’s proclamation suspending new nonimmigrant visas.

Read the NAM’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform, “A Way Forward.” To learn more about the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, click here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 11.7 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

News

Masks Equal Money: The NAM Asks Americans to Wear Face Coverings in Public

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Wearing a face covering in public spaces isn’t just about protecting other people—it’s also about protecting America’s reopening, jobs and manufacturing industry.

That’s the message of the NAM’s recent series of public service videos calling for the widespread use of face coverings in public—something manufacturers have been encouraging for months.

On social media, the videos have reached more than 1.4 million people and have been amplified by high-profile figures, including the U.S. surgeon general, U.S. senators and members of the media.

NAM leads the way: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons was among the first in the business community to call for social distancing and promote the use of face coverings as essential to reopening the U.S. economy.

  • “The one thing that we know right now that you shouldn’t be doing is you shouldn’t be coming in contact with other human beings, outside of your immediate family, your nuclear family. That’s it. That’s all the people are asking,” Timmons said to The New York Times in April.
  • “It’s really that simple. If you want to be a patriotic American, put on a face covering,” Timmons said on Fox Business in May, putting on a face covering himself.

Innovation amid crisis: “Our members are innovating at a rapid pace to meet the needs posed by the pandemic, and our team is responding in kind by addressing one of the most critical challenges we face in keeping our workers safe and the industry and country open,” said Erin Streeter, senior vice president of communications and brand strategy at the NAM. “We’re doubling down on creativity to see us through this crisis, so you’re seeing new tactics like deploying social media influencers to help, illustrations and designs to break through and a total guerrilla-style campaign that leverages all of our communications assets—NAM leadership, owned media, earned media and social media—to get the job done.”

#MasksEqualMoney: This week, the NAM unveiled a series of illustrations on Instagram that show how essential masks are to keeping the American economy open and protecting frontline workers.

TikTok stars join in: To reach young people, social media stars Granny Coy Bundy and Grandpa Charles Mallet lent their platforms to the NAM.

Ripple effect: “We didn’t just dip our toes into this challenge; we dove in given the urgency of the public health and economic crisis,” said Streeter. “We’ve relied on the strength of our creativity to press this forward—and we’re seeing our member companies, partner associations and other business and public health entities helping to amplify our messages. We’re also seeing others follow our lead to collectively create a force multiplier effect that is making a difference.”

Press Releases

NAM Files Suit Against Administration’s “Unlawful Restrictions” to Visas

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers was joined today by several prominent business organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, TechNet and Intrax, in filing a lawsuit in federal court opposing President Donald Trump’s proclamation suspending new nonimmigrant visas.

“These overreaching, unlawful restrictions don’t just limit visas—they will restrain our economic recovery at a time when the very future of our country hangs in the balance. Manufacturers and program sponsors are going to court because these restrictions are far outside the bounds of the law and would deal a severe blow to our industry. We cannot let this stand,” said NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly. “Our industry should be laser-focused on leading our recovery and renewal, but these visa restrictions will hand other countries a competitive advantage because they will drive talented individuals away from the United States. These restrictions could harm every corner of our economy, as evidenced by the broad coalition that has come together to oppose them.”

“Our lawsuit seeks to overturn these sweeping and unlawful immigration restrictions that are an unequivocal ‘not welcome’ sign to the engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other critical workers who help drive the American economy,” said U.S. Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue. “Left in place, these restrictions will push investment abroad, inhibit economic growth and reduce job creation.”

“Innovation is absolutely key to surviving the economic crisis currently facing our nation, especially for retailers who’ve seen their stores forced to close and scrambled to find new ways to sell and deliver products,” said National Retail Federation Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel Stephanie Martz. “This proclamation is meant to protect American jobs but instead it threatens the millions of rank-and-file workers whose jobs rely on experts coming up with the latest technology to keep retail moving forward. Advanced computer and IT jobs are already hard to fill, and retailers need to be able to bring in talent from wherever they can find it. This sweeping measure could have a significant negative impact on their ability to do that.”

“TechNet is proud to join the NAM, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, NRF and Intrax in standing up for American companies’ ability to serve our nation during a global pandemic. TechNet spoke out when the administration announced its visa restrictions, and today, we reiterate that banning categories of innovators only hinders tech’s ability to serve our country by providing essential groceries and food delivery, collaborating with co-workers, having safe medical visits using telehealth solutions and helping millions stay connected. This litigation is a necessary step toward maintaining our nation’s ability to compete in the global economy and provide Americans the help they need during this uncertain time and in the future,” said TechNet President and CEO Linda Moore.

“The Exchange Visitor Program enhances U.S. national security by building mutual understanding that helps us address critical international issues, while strengthening the U.S. economy. J-1 cultural exchange programs contribute more than $1.4 billion to the American economy each year. One out of three World Leaders has participated on a Cultural Exchange Program in the U.S. These overreaching restrictions will sharply curtail cultural exchange programs at just the time when we should be increasing connections between people around the world,” said Intrax President Marcie Schneider.

Read the NAM’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform, “A Way Forward.” To learn more about the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, click here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 11.7 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Workforce

“Manufacturing Is an Obvious Choice” for a Veteran

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Dan Mitchell didn’t expect to join the Army, which means he couldn’t have expected to translate his military experience into a career in manufacturing. But thanks to The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program, that’s where he is now.

The son of Fish and Wildlife Service officials, Mitchell set his heart on the Army while a Boy Scout in high school. As he describes it, he entered West Point as “a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 17-year-old”—and faced a wake-up call. It wasn’t at all like the movies!

Instead, Mitchell learned that Army life involved doing a great number of small, important things effectively. He spent time in maintenance at industrial facilities, managing safety and operations, and tracking armored units and heavy vehicles. Whether he was keeping his room clean or doing inspections or ensuring the safety of weaponry, he learned that routines were vital. It was a lesson that would serve him well in his next career.

Heroes MAKE America: After eight years in the Army, Mitchell heard about the Heroes MAKE America program from some of the 145 soldiers under his command, and he quickly signed up.

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented his Heroes class from touring facilities—“I was excited for the Frito-Lay tour,” he says, “and that’ll stick in my craw for my entire life”—he calls his experience in the program “phenomenal.”
  • From general career support, such as help with building a LinkedIn profile and drafting a resume, to the “invaluable” Certified Production Technician course, Mitchell saw Heroes MAKE America as a vital program that offered him critical tools.
  • “It was eye-opening to see the level of skilled labor and craftmanship that’s involved in modern American manufacturing,” Mitchell says. “It spoke to me. I had no idea of the width and breadth of opportunities, or how interesting and dynamic and challenging the jobs are.”

A new job: As he begins his new role as a production supervisor at Daikin Applied Americas in Minnesota, Mitchell sees manufacturing as a natural fit. “What I did in the Army doesn’t directly translate to what I’m doing now, but it’s pretty darn close,” he says. “I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I’d be way behind if I hadn’t gotten the Heroes training.”

Words of advice: “For anyone who has been a leader in the Army—as long as you’re willing to learn and put in the work—manufacturing is an obvious choice.”

Workforce

Three Diversity Chiefs Share Insights

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Manufacturers are looking to make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive—but what steps should they take? Following the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests, many companies have supported the NAM’s own Pledge for Action, an agenda for advancing justice, equality and opportunity for Black people and all people of color.

As part of its Diversity and Inclusion pillar, The Manufacturing Institute has begun hosting roundtables, drawing on the expertise of D&I chiefs from across a wide range of companies. Below is a brief recap of a recent event.

The panel: Speakers included AAON Community Relations Director Stephanie Cameron, Dow Senior HR Director of Talent Acquisition/Pipelines and Corporate Director of Inclusion Alveda Williams and Trane Technologies Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Talent Management Michelle Murphy. Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee moderated the conversation.

The panelists focused on helping those who are just beginning this conversation as well as those who are working to accelerate their current efforts. A few of the suggestions included the following:

  • Don’t rely on programs. Williams noted that programs can be cancelled when budgets are cut or an unforeseen situation arises. Instead, manufacturers should find ways to make D&I a part of their identity, ensuring that their work in the area won’t be scaled back or discarded.
  • Emphasize inclusion. Inclusion drives innovation, productivity and team engagement, Cameron pointed out. While diversity can be considered a collection of unique differences, Williams added, you can’t capitalize on those differences unless you value inclusion. Achieving diversity is about the workforce, but inclusion is about the workplace, and creating a culture and environment that emphasizes a sense of belonging.
  • Embrace change. Murphy emphasized that companies must be agile and adaptable not only to keep up with workplace changes, but also to promote positivity and lead with their values.

The conversation also included some concrete practices and initiatives, including:

  • Companywide virtual conversations about issues like race, gender and LGBT inclusion to encourage learning and discussion;
  • Internal leadership development programs to ensure that diverse leaders have opportunities to move up within the company, which might include English and Spanish courses on-site; and
  • Employee resource groups and inclusion resource groups that bring forward ideas from diverse employees and allies to move the company forward.

The business case: Strengthening D&I isn’t just the right thing to do, participants said; it’s also the smart thing to do. Inclusion drives engagement, and engaged employees are more productive—making inclusive workplaces better for a business’s bottom line.

You can access a recording of the full conversation here.

Workforce

From Army Mechanic to Food Manufacturer

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Brittanee Sayer is the sixth of seven siblings who have served in branches of the military. Given her family’s example, she always knew she would serve her country. But what would come after that? The answer: manufacturing, thanks to training at The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program.

Her military experience proved useful to the career change. Sayer spent most of her seven years in the service working as a generator mechanic at Fort Riley. She was in charge of maintaining tactical, utility and precise power generation sets, internal combustion engines and associated equipment—a job that included running power for Fort Riley’s hospital. When she decided to leave the military, she wanted to keep employing these skills.

Heroes MAKE America: Prior to her Army service, Sayer had worked at Wolverine, which manufactures military boots—“I went from making the boots, to wearing the boots,” she says. Given her experience in the Army, she thought a return to the industry made sense, and that the training offered by the Heroes MAKE America program would help her advance further.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March required a few changes to ensure safety, but Sayer says the program adapted effectively. Adjustments included:

  • Online learning, with Skype meetings once per week to ensure students could still engage with the material together;
  • Smaller classroom meetings, with in-person tests offered to five people at a time; and
  • Digital networking opportunities to help students and graduates connect with companies seeking employees and learn from manufacturing leaders.

The new career: Recently, Sayer accepted an offer of employment at General Mills, and expects to start by the end of the month. She says the Heroes program helped get her resume in front of every possible employer. Since she graduated from the program in May, she’s received a range of job offers from across the United States.

The last word: “I tell all my friends still in the Army: if you can do the Heroes MAKE America program, do it,” says Sayer. “It’s a great opportunity, and it really does help.”

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