PASCO, Wash. -- Manufacturing jobs took a big dive at the beginning of the recession, with companies trying to save money by shipping manufacturing abroad. But the industry as a whole is making a slow recovery, at least that was the feel at the SmartMap Expo at the TRAC in Pasco.
The Tri-Cities Development Council Director of Business Retention and Expansion, Gary White says more than 500 people attended the Pasco event and they had 120 exhibitors for the 10th annual event.
White says although there are less jobs now since the we lost our stimulus money, we are still better off since the peak of the recession. He says a lot of that has to do with our unique manufacturers in town.
"What you'll see in the Tri-Cities is not a lot of quantity as far as numbers of manufacturers, but the ones we do have are unique quality companies if you will. Companies like Ti-Lite, Cadwelll, Lampson. We just need to multiply that in the Tri-Cities," says White.
And uniqueness and Research and Development is what kept the Bogert Group afloat in Pasco for more than 30 years. Owner and President Richard Bogert says they keep on making new products. "We do aviation, marine, hydraulics, we do a fair amount of work for the Department of Defense," says Bogert. He says at the peak of their success they had 30 employees, but are now back down to 11.
He says he's optimistic the industry will bring jobs back to the U.S. The Washington State Department of Commerce published economical studies. The studies show manufacturing increased employment over the year, growing by 5.6 percent. The growth averaged 3,109 jobs in 2010, with average annual pay of $34,418 and a five-year annual average growth rate of 10.7 percent. Manufacturing represented about 8.7 percent of total covered employment.
Non durable goods, which includes food, beverage and chemical manufacturing, was 87.6 percent of manufacturing. Durable goods, which includes miscellaneous fabricated metal and transportation equipment manufacturing, was 12.4 percent of manufacturing.
Growth was also significant in Benton County. Manufacturing was the only goods-producing industry to gain employment over the year, growing by 1.8 percent. The growth averaged 3,906 jobs in 2010, with average annual pay of $50,771 and a five-year annual average growth rate of 1.4 percent. Manufacturing represented 4.9 percent of total covered employment. Non durable goods, which includes food, beverage and chemical manufacturing, was 73.9 percent of manufacturing. Durable goods, which includes miscellaneous manufacturing and computer and electric product manufacturing, was 26.1 percent of manufacturing.
Manufacturing jobs are also growing in Yakima County, but much slower. Business owner Larry Kraft of Cascade Molding Inc. says he has a good outlook for the future. "We certainly feel the recession like everyone else does, but I have to tell you, the last couple of years business has been quite good. We haven't necessarily hired people, but our sales are up and a lot of it has to do with innovation," says Kraft who employees about a dozen workers.
Informal economical projections for Yakima County say the non farm market will net about 600 new jobs in 2012, roughly a 0.7 percent upturn. This will be on par with the 500 job gain experienced in 2011, but will not be strong enough to pull Yakima County's non farm employment up to its pre-recession level. It may very well require three or four years of slow, steady growth to get the county back to where we were before the recent recession, employment-wise.
Andrew Crowder with the Washington State Department of Commerce says they have been working on helping manufacturing companies network across the globe. Crowder says he's worked with 800 companies just last year. "We're seeing some success with companies exporting to Germany, exporting to China. The state of Washington has trade representation in about ten countries around the world."
To see economical studies broken down by county, click here.