Office of the Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch
Office of the Lt. Gov, Rebecca Kleefisch - Press Release

Puppies, Apple Pie and Manufacturing Jobs

Friday, November 8, 2013 - Press Release

Nobody's not for jobs. Just like nobody's not for seniors; nobody's not for kids, puppies or apple pie. (Nobody's not for double negatives to make a point.) But when you are talking about jobs and start breaking them into industry sectors, some have surprising opponents. Behind closed doors, some folks are telling kids that manufacturing jobs are not good enough for them. We would like to change their minds.

There are more than three million jobs nationally that go unfilled, partly because people don't have the skills employers need. The National Association of Manufacturers says 600,000 workers are needed to fill the gap in the manufacturing sector alone. We are working overtime to close this gap but part of this problem is caused by young people and displaced workers simply not picking manufacturing. We've heard lots of reasons why but some continue to alarm us: parents don't want their kids in jobs that they remember being shipped overseas. Parents, teachers and guidance counselors who have baccalaureate degrees expect the same "American Dream Standard" for their kids and students. There is an antiquated but persistent stereotype that these jobs are "dirty, dumb and dangerous.” Nobody's not for clean, smart and safe.
The reality shows us that the manufacturing sector is clean, smart and safe.
These jobs are not going overseas, and in fact, many of these jobs are coming back. While the stories might be anecdotal evidence, the data is not. 37 percent of U.S. manufacturers with sales over $1 billion said they were considering shifting some production from China back to U.S. soil. Manufacturers have added a half million new jobs over the last three years, factory payrolls are growing and the verdict is in: manufacturing is growing and provides opportunities for all.
In many ways, the American dream was built and highlighted best through manufacturing. Get up, work hard and you can find success. While always changing, that same lesson remains true today. The average manufacturing wage and benefits total more than $77,000 a year, compared to $60,168 for an average worker in all industries. In an age where 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed and the average Class of 2013 grad is looking at repaying $35,200 in student loan debt, a two-year degree and good wage are manufacturing's promise.
But this isn’t just about changing perceptions; we have exciting developments right now as the legislature recently passed proposals that invest in youth apprenticeship, provide scholarships for technical education, and continues the successful Wisconsin Workers Win program. This package of legislation, seven proposals in all, focused on developing our workforce and passed with nearly unanimous bipartisan support.
It is easy to be for seniors, kids, puppies and apple pie. But let’s make it a priority to include careers in manufacturing as part of the American Dream Standard, too. Tell your kids, please.

Rebecca Kleefisch
Lt. Governor