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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.

Business Operations

Manufacturers Lead by Example on COVID-19 Safety

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This morning, the leadership of the NAM Board of Directors—Trane Technologies Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Mike Lamach, Dow Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Vice Chair Jim Fitterling, BTE Technologies President and NAM Small and Medium Manufacturers Chair Chuck Wetherington and Protolabs President and CEO and NAM SMM Vice Chair Vicki Holt—released a joint statement to reinforce the industry’s critical role in the fight against COVID-19. The statement reaffirmed manufacturers’ commitment to science and to what’s necessary to plow ahead.

  • United in the fight: “As manufacturers for America’s goods and essential products, we have a strong message for our team members and the country. All Americans must do everything in our power to keep our workers, our communities and our fellow citizens safe from COVID-19.”
  • Leading by example: “Our industry will continue manufacturing personal protective equipment, medical supplies and therapeutics, racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine and keeping consumer goods and the food supply plentiful. We have been able to do this throughout the pandemic and keep our workers safe because we follow the science.”
  • Concluding words: “We all must follow best practices and look out for each other so we can keep the country open, supply the world and defeat this invisible enemy.”

Read the full statement here.

Workforce

Virtual MFG Day Was a Success

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MFG Day 2020 looked a little different from last year, as the events celebrating modern manufacturing happened online instead of in person. But even amid the pandemic, there was a widespread outpouring of support for manufacturing, including from many policymakers. Here are some highlights, and a look at what’s next.

Bipartisan celebrations: The White House issued a proclamation on Thursday night designating Oct. 2 as National Manufacturing Day, while at least 28 governors and leading members of Congress marked the occasion by proclamation or on social media.

Virtual shop floor tours: Meanwhile, hundreds of manufacturers—in 49 states—invited students to “tour” their facilities via virtual events.

News coverage: MFG Day was also covered by traditional publications. Watch NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons on Yahoo! Finance discussing MFG Day and the need to practice safe social behaviors to combat COVID-19. And read two op-eds by Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee on the importance of MFG Day, in the Indianapolis Star and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Still more to come: Be sure to join us on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 12:00 p.m. EDT for another flagship event (presented by Walmart) on how manufacturers are stepping up in response to COVID-19. You can also find more events throughout October on CreatorsWanted.org.

And don’t forget to share your own celebrations of manufacturing by using the hashtags #MFGDay20 and #CreatorsWanted on social media.

Business Operations

CDC Acknowledges Airborne Transmission

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The CDC updated its guidance on transmission of COVID-19 to clarify that it spreads through airborne transmission, CNBC reports.

What it all means: While the CDC says COVID-19 is still much more likely to be transmitted through respiratory droplets when someone sneezes, coughs, talks or breathes, it’s also possible for smaller particles of the virus to stay in the air for several minutes—or even hours—and spread between people who are more than six feet apart.

Ventilation is key: The new guidance heightens the importance of proper ventilation in fighting the spread of the virus. The CDC clarifies that most airborne transmission happens in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, especially during activities like exercise or singing that might cause people to breathe more heavily.

The recommendation: The CDC is still recommending the same behaviors as before, which include:

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth;
  • Social distance by staying at least six feet away from others;
  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Clean high-touch surfaces often; and
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.

A word from the NAM: “For months, manufacturers have gone above and beyond the recommendations of health officials to protect the health and safety of our nation’s essential workers,” said NAM Director of Labor and Employment Policy Drew Schneider. “Manufacturers are using existing ventilation systems and outdoor air to reduce airborne spread of COVID-19 by increasing air circulation, allowing outdoor air into facilities and using air purifiers. NAM members are still following CDC guidance for social distancing, face coverings and proper hygiene and will continue to retool their facilities in accordance with the recommendations of health experts.”

Workforce

MFG Day Is Here!

Today is MFG Day 2020—the year’s largest day of action for modern manufacturing. But it doesn’t stop there: MFG Day launches a month full of manufacturing events, as companies and educational institutions show students, parents, teachers and community leaders the great careers that manufacturing has to offer.

A new look: Thanks to the pandemic, the annual tradition of manufacturing open houses has been transformed into a series of mostly virtual events. This year’s MFG Day will be like no other, offering opportunities for more connection and participation across the industry and country without the limitations of physical events and travel. Hundreds of events will be held throughout October.

A full schedule of national, local and regional events can be found at creatorswanted.org. The Manufacturing Institute is also hosting a series of flagship virtual events, including “Creators Wanted: A Program for America’s Students” today at 12:00 p.m. EDT, presented by Salesforce, PTC and Rockwell Automation, and “Creators Wanted: A Program for America’s Teachers” on Monday, Oct. 5, at 12:00 p.m. EDT, presented by PTC. Share these programs with your networks!

A word from the MI: “As we celebrate MFG Day across the country over the next month, we are reminded of the important role that modern manufacturing plays in each of our lives. From the masks and clothes we wear to the food we eat, modern manufacturing is at the heart of our country and, as the pandemic continues, will lead the way to our recovery and renewal,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “This year’s MFG Day, more so than ever before, is a uniquely powerful opportunity to bring awareness to the high-paying, rewarding and meaningful career opportunities in our industry and to open minds to what’s possible with a career in modern manufacturing.”

And . . . Make sure to use the right hashtags to amplify the story of MFG Day: #MFGDay2020 and #CreatorsWanted.

News

NAM Advances 60 Pandemic Policies That Benefit Manufacturers

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When the history of COVID-19 is written, it will probably confirm that this was the greatest mobilization of manufacturing power since World War II. From food to ventilators to the vaccines themselves, manufacturers are making the products that keep Americans safe, comfortable and hopeful. And they’ve done it all while contending with an economic crash, a raft of new regulations and new safety procedures that had to be implemented at top speed.

These extraordinary demands on manufacturers call for an unprecedented degree of policy support, and the NAM is making sure they get it. As of September, the NAM has achieved 60 policy wins for manufacturers. We recently talked to NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse about the NAM’s work over the past six months. Here is a condensed interview.

The plan: The NAM’s three watchwords throughout the pandemic have been “response, recovery and renewal”—in that order, says Newhouse.

  • “The response phase focused on immediate health care needs like PPE; the recovery phase centered around businesses’ reopening needs and support for employees; and our long-term renewal efforts worked to strengthen the overall sector and economy.”
  • The first few months were occupied with response and recovery, but by late summer, policymakers started thinking about long-term renewal, Newhouse explains.
  • The NAM worked out a broad program of reform, which included onshoring and reshoring policies. “That’s actually a conversation we’ve been driving for a long time, because the U.S. should be the best place in the world to manufacture.”

What’s next? Manufacturing continues to struggle in this recovery phase, so policymakers need to do even more. As Newhouse put it, “A bipartisan stimulus package is important, and we hope Congress can come together with the administration to put additional liquidity into the economy, provide a safety net for employees, support the health care sector and create liability protections for businesses.”

How the NAM succeeded: Relationships were absolutely key, Newhouse says. “In this environment, with so much incoming and so little time, policymakers turned to people they trusted—and that included the NAM. This was a real test of the association’s strategy and credibility, and our hard work over the past few years paid off.”

He continued, “At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, [NAM President and CEO] Jay [Timmons] called for an all-hands approach. He challenged the NAM to rethink who we are and refocus to ensure we were being as effective as possible to meet the crisis. That’s exactly what we’ve done.”

Policy and Legal

“Take-Home” COVID-19 Lawsuits Could Be Costly

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Companies with COVID-19 outbreaks could be vulnerable to costly lawsuits over workers’ transmission of the virus to their families, Reuters reports.

  • Roughly 7% to 9% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are believed to be “take-home infections,” where someone contracted the disease at work and then infects family members at home.
  • Praedicat, a firm that evaluates risks for insurance companies, calculates that these types of lawsuits could cost companies as much as $21 billion if the number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths reaches 300,000.

As we explained back in July, a number of COVID-19 liability lawsuits are likely to be brought forward over the next two to five years, and the flood of COVID-19 litigation isn’t expected to begin until spring 2022.

More to the story: The NAM prevailed on Senate leaders—and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus—to include key liability protections in draft COVID-19 relief legislation, while its efforts with manufacturing association partners continue to yield advances in many states.

Business Operations

Global COVID-19 Toll Reaches 1 Million

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As concerns grow about another wave of COVID-19 infections this fall and winter, the world has passed a grim milestone: 1 million deaths from COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. Here’s the latest on the resurgence of COVID-19 both in the United States and abroad.

  • Europe prepares for another wave, sans lockdowns: Cities across Europe are fighting a surge in COVID-19 infections by strengthening social distancing rules—but they aren’t returning to full lockdowns, like those that were put in place this spring, The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.
  • The numbers for the U.S.: More than 20 U.S. states report COVID-19 spikes over the past week. Meanwhile, an analysis of Johns Hopkins University data found that only 11 states saw cases decline more than 10% in that same time period, The Hill explains. The remaining states reported level infection rates.
  • Trouble in the Midwest: Positive COVID-19 test rates have risen above 25% in some Midwest states, an analysis by Reuters found. North Dakota’s positive test rate is averaging 30%, while South Dakota’s has reached 26%. “The World Health Organization considers rates above 5% concerning because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered,” Reuters explains.

NAM in action: As the nation prepares for a potential uptick in COVID-19 cases, it becomes even more important to encourage greater adherence to safety practices that limit community spread. A few weeks ago, the NAM launched the “Creators Respond Commitment” to help manufacturing companies encourage wider outside-of-work compliance with safety practices. You can access the email templates to share this campaign with your team members at this link.

Business Operations

Racial Inequality Cost U.S. Economy $16 Trillion Over 20 Years

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The effects of racial inequality can be difficult to quantify. But a new report from Citigroup tries to calculate some of the damage, putting a dollar amount on the economic impact of racial discrimination over the past 20 years, CNBC reports.

This analysis found that racial inequality and discrimination reduced U.S. GDP by more than $16 trillion over that time period. That total includes money that Black Americans lost due to inequalities in salary, housing, access to higher education and lending to business owners.

Here’s what manufacturers are doing to address racial inequality in the industry:

  • Pledge for Action: In June, the NAM’s Executive Committee unanimously passed an 11-point commitment plan for manufacturers to advance justice, equality and opportunity for Black people and all people of color.
  • Closing the opportunity gap: Last week, during the NAM board meeting, manufacturers committed to taking 50,000 tangible actions to increase equity and pay in the industry, as well as creating 300,000 pathways to job opportunities for Black people and all people of color. As a result, manufacturing will reflect the diversity of the overall U.S. workforce by 2030.
Workforce

STEP Ahead Awards Showcase Women in Manufacturing

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Last night, The Manufacturing Institute hosted the 2020 STEP Ahead Awards, honoring 130 women in manufacturing for their leadership within the industry and the example they set for other women in manufacturing. Though it was a virtual event, the upbeat spirit of these women, who are helping the industry support America through the pandemic, was fully on display—with a massive crowd tuning in online.

Here are a few key quotes from the speakers:

  • STEP Chair Erika Peterman, BASF senior vice president for chemical intermediates North America, said, “[In the future], women will continue to be key contributors to our economy. . . . Manufacturing in the future may not look like it does today, but it will be around, and there will be opportunities for professional growth for all workers. And lastly, STEP Ahead will continue to provide programs and forums that foster and encourage females to enter the world of manufacturing and pursue their careers.”
  • Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee: “The most famous symbol of manufacturing in America is a woman, Rosie the Riveter. Rosie inspired women to work in America’s arsenal of democracy during WWII. Today, manufacturers have mobilized to fight a new war, against COVID-19. . . . And that wouldn’t be possible without a dedicated, talented, innovative and diverse workforce. And that includes the women we honor here tonight, who will inspire a new generation.”
  • NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons: “I couldn’t wait to raise a glass to all of you tonight. . . . I can’t think of anyone I’d rather toast than the women of manufacturing, because you are the backbone. . . . Our industry will rise to any challenge, so long as talented and driven and heroic women are leading the charge. That’s our past, that’s our present, and there is no doubt that’s our future.”

And there was more . . . The program also featured an appearance by STEP Vice Chair Kathy Wengel (Johnson & Johnson executive vice president and chief global supply chain officer), a cameo from Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie and a musical performance by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The gala’s hosts were NAM Senior Vice President of Communications and Brand Strategy Erin Streeter and PROCEPT BioRobotics Director of Manufacturing Akhila Bhiman, who was also a 2018 STEP Ahead honoree.

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