#526. What’s Up With Manufacturing Wages?

Posted on | The Agurban

The subject of manufacturing wages can elicit a wide range of emotions for those close to the industry. On the one hand, there are reports of low wages (Bad News for Manufacturing?) On the other hand, we see reports showing just the opposite (2015 IW Salary Survey: Manufacturing Prospers But What About Pay?)  Now, we want to share part of a report by Patricia Panchak with Industry Week, that may actually lay it all out there –

What’s Up With Manufacturing Wages?
March 12, 2015

This gallery probably should be called, “What’s Up with the Perception of Manufacturing Wages?” because there are at least two very different narratives about manufacturing jobs and wages.

One portrays manufacturing jobs as challenging, upwardly mobile and high-paying. The other views them as downwardly mobile and low paying.

Could it be that both are true? I suspect so.

Within manufacturing resides at least three three vastly different tiers:
• at the top are engineers, researchers and scientists, with the higher salaries;
• in the middle are machinists, technicians and other skilled workers, such as welders, with very good salaries;
• and at the bottom, assemblers and basic production workers, with, not-so-good wages.

(Some would argue that engineers belong in a separate category, and I don’t disagree; but for arguments sake, let’s stick with this.)

When thinking about manufacturing jobs, most of the general public, I’m willing to bet based on my 20-plus years reporting about manufacturing, think of the third tier.

Those within manufacturing — especially those working to solve the shortage of highly skilled manufacturing workers — tend to think about the top two tiers

In sum, when people talk about manufacturing jobs and wages, they often are not talking about the same thing.

Why does this matter?

Because if the general public continues to think of manufacturing jobs as only assembly-line and production work, attracting them to the other manufacturing jobs will continue to be an uphill climb.

For the rest of the article, which includes a number of charts showing some of the differences between manufacturing jobs and non-manufacturing jobs, visit here.