And it still isn’t true:
It would seem like a “help wanted” sign in a factory is as much a thing of the past as 50-cent gasoline, 25-cent pizza or black and white televisions. But experts say that the outlook for hiring in manufacturing isn’t nearly as bleak as the recent headlines would suggest. Despite the growth in imports, there are still powerful incentives to keep some manufacturing here, close to the world’s largest consumer market in a just-in-time delivery world. That’s part of the reason Asian and European automakers have been building so many U.S. plants — to serve growing demand from U.S. consumers for their products. Several experts say that the steep decline in the nation’s manufacturing base in earlier decades is probably behind us, that the remaining jobs are more competitive and productive, and thus more secure. “We might still be seeing some small declines in manufacturing overall, but even that’s a mix,” said Ken Goldstein, labor economist at the Conference Board, a business research group. “This year you’ll see more hiring in nondurable manufacturing sectors such as in chemicals, in rubber, in plastics, in paper.” … The most recent survey [by the Institute for Supply Management]found that 22 percent of manufacturing executives are planning to add jobs, and another 65 percent plan to keep staffing at current levels. … [A] survey by the National Association of Manufacturers and Deloitte Consulting last fall found that more than half of manufacturers reported that 10 percent or more of their positions are empty for lack of the right candidates. In addition, 81 percent face “moderate” or “severe” shortages of qualified workers that constrain output.