#145 – Inside Our Industry – America Is Back in the Factory Business

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

Reshoring manufacturing can only occur if there is available space to produce the goods. This Wall Street Journal report is good news for the U.S. manufacturing industry.

America Is Back in the Factory Business
By John Keilman, Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2023

Record spending on manufacturing construction heralds a made-in-the-U.S. rebound, stoked by green-energy incentives and concerns about foreign supply chains; ‘this is here to stay’.

Production at U.S. factories rose last year, but few things were produced at a more furious pace than factories themselves.

Construction spending related to manufacturing reached $108 billion in 2022, Census Bureau data show, the highest annual total on record—more than was spent to build schools, healthcare centers or office buildings.

New factories are rising in urban cores and rural fields, desert flats and surf towns. Much of the growth is coming in the high-tech fields of electric-vehicle batteries and semiconductors, national priorities backed by billions of dollars in government incentives. Other companies that once relied exclusively on lower-cost countries to manufacture eyeglasses and bicycles and bodybuilding supplements have found reasons to come home.

Manufacturing has always been an integral part of American life. Paul Revere opened a foundry that produced bells and cannons following his famous midnight ride. Henry Ford’s assembly line made cars affordable to the masses. And U.S. industrial might helped win World War II, when nearly half of private-sector employees worked in factories.

That portion plunged after the war, thanks to automation and U.S. companies seeking lower costs overseas. Production capacity, which had grown at about 4% a year for decades, flattened after China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization.

But last year U.S. production capacity showed its strongest growth since 2015 after pandemic-driven shortages and delays caused manufacturers to rethink their far-flung supply chains, said UBS industrials analyst Chris Snyder.

Huge government incentives are stoking the frenzy. The Biden administration, seeing electric vehicles and semiconductors as matters of national security, has devoted billions of dollars to expanding those industries in the U.S. States are kicking in billions more.

Click here for the full report.