Survey Suggests More Growth Ahead For Midwest Economy

Survey Suggests More Growth Ahead For Midwest Economy

Aug 1, 2017

By The Associated Press A monthly survey of business leaders suggests that business conditions worsened last month but that the economy will pick up over the next few months in nine Midwestern and Plains states, according to a report issued Tuesday. The Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped to 56.1 in July after reaching 62.3 in June. The May figure was 55.5. “The overall index over the past several months indicates a healthy regional manufacturing economy, and points to solid growth for both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing for the second half of 2017,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor, while a score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Economic optimism remained strong despite a decline in July’s number: to 60.2 from 67.5 in June. “Strong profit growth, still-low interest rates, and international sales boosted the economic outlook among supply managers in the nine-state region,” Goss said. The July employment index remained above growth neutral, despite slipping to 56.5 last month from 60.7 in June. “With the recent boost in employment growth, total regional employment growth (year over year) is now 1.4 percent, and slightly below the nation’s 1.6 percent gain over the same time period,” he said. On the trade front, the regional index for new export orders index dipped to 54.3 in July from 56.6 in June, and the import index declined to 50.0 from June’s 56.7. Japan’s recent decision to raise the tariff on frozen beef imports will significantly harm Kansas and Nebraska, according to Goss, because Nebraska ranked No. 1 and Kansas No. 4 in those...

Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some…

Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some…

Jul 31, 2017

“Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some Suggestions” By Ian Wright, Engineering.com Revitalizing American manufacturing has been a hot topic for some time, gaining prominence as a talking point in last year’s election. Donald Trump’s victory led many to speculate about the future of manufacturing in the U.S., particularly whether it’s possible to bring manufacturing back to America. The latest piece of advice on this topic comes from a rather surprising source: Walmart. The retail giant recently convened a meeting of representatives from governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to present a Policy Roadmap to Renew U.S. Manufacturing. “As we’ve worked over the last four years alongside our suppliers toward our goal to source an additional $250 billion [USD] in products that support American jobs, we’ve learned a great deal about the challenges our suppliers face in domestic manufacturing,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart vice president for U.S. Sourcing and Manufacturing. “The good news is we’ve also learned how to overcome the challenges and, because of our experience, Walmart is uniquely positioned to help facilitate broad engagement in accelerating the expansion of U.S. manufacturing.” Before proceeding to the specifics of Walmart’s roadmap, it should be noted that a 2015 study by the Economic Policy Institute estimated that Walmart displaced over 400,000 jobs in the United States between 2001 and 2013 as a result of Chinese imports. The majority of these jobs were in manufacturing. In 2013 alone, the value of Walmart’s imports from China amounted to approximately $45 billion; this is the same year Walmart committed to sourcing an additional $250 billion over the next decade on products that support American jobs. Irony aside, Walmart’s policy roadmap cites four major barriers to U.S. manufacturing growth: Lack of an available, qualified workforce. Lack of coordination and financing in supply chains. Complexity and costs of local, state and federal regulations. Outdated tax system and trade agreements. According to an analysis conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), addressing these policy barriers to domestic manufacturing creates an opportunity to recapture approximately $300 billion in consumer goods that are currently imported, including furniture, cookware and sporting goods, potentially resulting in the creation of an estimated 1.5 million American jobs. Walmart’s roadmap includes ten “policy levers” to address the major...

Apple supplier Foxconn says it will build big Wisconsin factory

Apple supplier Foxconn says it will build big Wisconsin factory

Jul 27, 2017

By Seth Fiegerman and Julia Horowitz, CNN Tech Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer that makes electronics for Apple and other tech companies, is coming to Wisconsin. The firm will invest $10 billion in Wisconsin to build a new manufacturing plant that produces LCD panels. The project will create 13,000 new jobs and should be completed by 2020, according to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  Foxconn’s estimate on jobs was more conservative. In a statement, the company said the project will create 3,000 jobs with the “potential” to generate up to 13,000 new jobs. Foxconn announced the investment from the White House. CEO Terry Gou was flanked by Walker, Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan. President Trump later joined them. Walker and Ryan thanked Trump for his work on the deal. “One thing we know about this president is how committed he is to reviving American manufacturing and bringing jobs home. This right here shows actual results,” said Ryan, a Republican who represents Wisconsin. Trump called Gou “one of the great businessmen anywhere in the world.” Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, Gou began teasing plans to invest more than $7 billion in a plant for producing displays, with the potential to create as many as 50,000 jobs. However, Gou has been talking about shifting some manufacturing to the United States for several years, with little to show for it so far. In 2013, for example, Foxconn announced plans to build a $30 million plant in Pennsylvania. It has yet to be built. Foxconn got some generous tax incentives for its Wisconsin venture. The state’s deal for the new plant, which requires legislative approval, includes incentives totaling as much as $3 billion, Walker said. The details of the incentive package would be announced in the coming days, he said. Walker said the investment could transform Wisconsin. “We’ve named it Wiscon Valley,” Walker told reporters at the White House. “It could be very much like Silicon Valley.” Foxconn had considered building the plant in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, among other states. Foxconn currently has facilities in Virginia and Indiana, each of which employ fewer than 1,000 workers, according to its website. The announcement may give Trump a victory as he looks to bring...

The New American Reshoring Movement By the Numbers

The New American Reshoring Movement By the Numbers

Jul 26, 2017

By Cutting Tool Engineering Magazine Many people are under the impression that manufacturing jobs are only moving in one direction: offshore. While many corporations are shifting certain jobs overseas to reduce manufacturing costs, there’s a lot more to the story. In reality, there are many businesses that have been making strenuous efforts to bring jobs back to the United States, a phenomenon known as the reshoring movement. Want to learn more about reshoring in the United States? Keep reading to see which U.S. companies have brought the most jobs back to the states, plus more information on this important new movement.     Companies reshore jobs in part due to increasing foreign labor costs, but that’s just one reason. Simply put, as automation and tools for engineering have improved, so too has the complexity of the manufacturing industry. And many specialty manufacturing jobs can’t be easily sent overseas. Contrary to popular belief, improvements in automation technology and engineering tools have been major assets to the new American economy. While some manufacturing jobs have been lost in recent decades, the productivity of the U.S. manufacturing sector has actually increased substantially. That means American companies are producing more goods for less cost, which results in better prices for consumers and better wages for workers. Even so, companies in the manufacturing industry are making continual efforts to bring jobs back into the United States. Often, these new manufacturing jobs and the latest tools for engineering require advanced education and highly technical skills that only American workers have to...

Engineers Use Giant Balloons to Build Underground Tunnels

Engineers Use Giant Balloons to Build Underground Tunnels

Jul 24, 2017

By David Mantey, This is Engineering By Design, Industrial Equipment News Also, human space pods, and radiation-resistant robots.   Human Space Pods Back in March, space tourism company Zero 2 Infinity announced that they were taking their balloon-based flight concept and expanding it into the commercial satellite launching business with Bloostar. I feared that the news meant that the company was abandoning plans to take space tourists to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere in large pods tied to huge balloon. It turns out that the company not only remains committed to space tourism, but they just unveiled the final design of the Bloon pod. Over the course of the last nine months, the company worked with the Elisava School of Design and Engineering on the interior design of the pressurized pod. Bloon rides could be operational within the next two years, and to gain some insight on the user experience, six student designers on the project locked themselves in a 12 square meter space for six hours, about two hours longer than the expected duration of the flight that will carry four passengers and two pilots nearly 22.5 miles (36 km) above the earth’s surface — 1.5 to climb, two hours of viewing, and then a one-hour return. During the return, the pod will actually detach from the balloon and allow passengers to experience free fall and zero gravity before the parachute engages. The design is a modular space five meters in diameter. The pod will have reclinable and movable seats, washbasins, floors and walls built with soft materials. And the windows will be smart, so you can actually use applications in the windows to listen to music, or locate places on Earth, for example. Tickets for a trip in a Bloon pod will cost more than $125,000 (€110,000).   Robot Withstands Massive Levels of Radiation The cleanup effort at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant has had some robot problems. Since the radiation levels in some areas are enough to kill a person instantaneously, officials working on decommissioning the plant need to rely on robots to assess a lot of the damage. The problem is, until now, the robots were not working. Back in March, the remote-controlled...

US nonfarm payrolls total 222,000 in June vs 179,000 expected

US nonfarm payrolls total 222,000 in June vs 179,000 expected

Jul 7, 2017

By Jeff Cox, CNBC Nonfarm payrolls jumped 222,000 in June, against expectations of 179,000. However, wage growth was muted, with average hourly earnings up 2.5 percent on an annualized basis. The U.S. economy added a better-than-expected 222,000 new jobs in June and the unemployment rate held at 4.4 percent, according to a government report Friday. Economists surveyed by Reuters had been expecting nonfarm payrolls growth of 179,000 and the unemployment rate to be 4.3 percent.   Wage growth, however, remained muted, with average hourly earnings rising 2.5 percent on an annualized basis, essentially unchanged from the previous month. On a monthly basis, the rise was 0.2 percent, which actually was a shade below the 0.2 percent expectation. The average work week edged higher, rising 0.1 hours to 34.5. The report “is another illustration that the real economy is in good health,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. “The only disappointment is that wage growth still shows few signs of accelerating.” The jump in payrolls came following a disappointing May that saw an increase of just 152,000. However, even that number was revised up from an initially reported 138,000, and April was revised upward as well, from 174,000 to 207,000. Employment gains have averaged 180,000 per month in 2017, a shade below the 187,000 in 2016. Health care was the biggest contributor, with 37,000 new positions, with professional and business services adding 35,000. Social assistance added 23,000, Wall Street-related jobs grew by 17,000 and mining — a focal point for the Trump administration — saw 8,000 new positions. An alternative measure of unemployment that counts discouraged workers and those holding part-time positions for economic reasons — the underemployed — rose from 8.4 percent to 8.6 percent. The labor-force participation rate edged higher to 62.8 percent.Those considered out of the labor force declined by 170,000 to 94.8 million while the labor force increased by 361,000 to 160.1 million. The employment population ratio rose to 60.1 percent, a full half percentage point above its level from a year ago. Jobs overall tilted to full-time positions, which grew by 355,000, while part-time fell by 224,000. Investors watched the report both for headline numbers and for...