Edited by John R. Bryson, Jennifer Clark and Vida Vanchan
Chapter 2: Manufacturing and labor
Manufacturing is an important source of employment in both advanced and developing economies. In 2010, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), manufacturing industries employed in excess of 670 million people worldwide and accounted directly for 26 percent of men’s and 16 percent of women’s jobs (ILO, 2012). In the United States, although manufacturing industries shed about four million jobs in the ten years 1998–2008, they still employed over 12 million people in 2012 and accounted for 9 percent of total non-farm employment (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). In addition, many jobs found in the service industries rely on manufacturing activity. This chapter provides a critical overview of labor’s role in and contribution to manufacturing. It restricts its scope to direct employment in manufacturing industries.The need to harness individual skills, abilities and effort to collective ends makes the efficient and productive organization of work tasks crucial to the competitiveness of manufacturing firms in capitalist economies. Although human labor is an essential input into any manufacturing process, it differs from other inputs in important ways. In the first place, it is not “produced” for the purpose of work and firms cannot control its rate of production (i.e. the population growth rate).
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