Friday, June 15, 2012

Report: Rural manufacturing, once so hard hit, looks to be rebounding with global growth

According to the Census Bureau, rural communities have lost roughly a third of their factory jobs since 1995. The recent recession has only made this worse, with one out of every eight rural factory jobs disappearing in 2009 alone. But, writes Jason Henderson in The Main Street Economist's report: Rebuilding Rural Manufacturing, rural manufacturing has rebounded  with a vengeance in the past two years. "Stronger global economic growth and a drop in the value of the dollar from its highs a decade ago has boosted U.S. manufactured exports. Rural factories have tapped global markets and a booming agricultural sector to spur rising employment and incomes. While the prospect of additional strength at rural factories remains promising, the rebuilding of rural America's manufacturing base rests on the retooling of rural factories with skilled workers for competition in global markets," Henderson writes.

Henderson, who is vice president and Omaha branch executive at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, reports that "economic growth in developing countries has spawned demand for commodity-based products." Rural manufacturing jobs have jumped 3.8 percent in 2011, double the national rate, with workers putting in more than 40 hours a week through the first quarter of 2012. Such strong labor demand has fueled strong wage growth making weekly earning rise more than 7 percent over the past year. Read the report.

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