Director's Message

Rob Harris, Executive Director

The Importance of Manufacturing

Originally, I was going to write about the recent Skills Gap Surveys the SRMA conducted, highlighting what the manufacturers of our region state is missing from applicants.  This is a part of the EDA Good Jobs Challenge orchestrated by FGCU and the FutureMakers Coalition.  You can read our Op-Ed HERE.

However, I just received notification that the Florida Chamber Foundation’s “2023 Florida Business & Economic Mid-Year Report” was just published and I decided to comment on that.

Relating to manufacturing there are a few key statistics which jumped out at me.  First, manufacturing makes up 5% of Florida’s total GDP.  We’ve been stating that number for many years now.  Manufacturing job growth has been flat for the past year, and nationally has been ranked between 10 and 12 since January 2018.  Manufacturing makes up 5.0% share of all Florida jobs (decreasing), has average annual wages of $70,000 (increasing), and a wage share of 5.1% (decreasing).

Manufacturing ranks 4th in GDP per worker, higher than the aggregate amount.  55% of Florida’s total GDP is comprised of industries which fall below the “All Industry” amount.

We need to make more “stuff”!  Florida’s GDP is led by Financial, Trade, Transportation and Utilities, and Professional & Business Services.  Florida-origin exports are increasing but is 40% lower than our imports.  We know that many trucks and cargo ships leave Florida empty after imports are delivered.

What does all of this mean?  Within the Florida Chamber’s 2030 blueprint, one goal states that we need to “Create good jobs by diversifying Florida’s economy”, and one of the elements in achieving that goal is becoming a “Top 5 state for manufacturing jobs.”  It also talks about Quality of Life with a goal of cutting childhood poverty in half.  The latest data I found from 2018 shows that the 5 counties in our region average 59% of students participate in the free/reduced lunch program.  Why is that?  Parents don’t make enough money to feed their kids!  There needs to be a shift in the employment people are seeking towards higher wage jobs.  There needs to be more of our adult-aged population in the workforce.  Both sets of people need to acquire the skills the higher-waged industries require to justify those wages.  That brings us back to the EDA Good Jobs Challenge.

Manufacturers need to get involved in this initiative.  Help the educators in our region create the training programs needed for getting people on a path towards higher wages.  Actively participate in hosting student tours, sponsoring robotic teams, or anything which gets students/adults excited about a career in manufacturing.  Also get involved in advocacy efforts.  The Florida Chamber’s 2030 blueprint understands the importance of manufacturing in achieving its’ goal.  Make sure our legislators understand and are in support of manufacturing growth in our region.  It is what is needed to strengthen our middle class which is the backbone of a strong economy.


SRMA Gold Business Partner: