Franklin Park manufacturing jobs decline in survey
Number of manufacturing jobs in Franklin Park drops slightly.
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:28AM
FRANKLIN PARK — A recent survey shows manufacturing jobs have decreased in Franklin Park.
The drop recorded between November 2011 and November 2012 was measured by Evanston-based Manufacturers’ News, which interviews every manufacturer in the country each year.
While jobs have dropped in Franklin Park, the decrease was the smallest since at least 2007. The village continues to rank sixth in the state behind Chicago, Elk Grove, Rockford, Elgin and Aurora.
Northlake, Chicago, Cook County and the state of Illinois all saw increases in manufacturing.
Tom Dubin, president of Manufacturers’ News, thinks the increase could be the beginning of a modest trend with some manufacturing jobs returning to the U.S.
“The cost of labor in China has increased,” Dubin said. “Transportation costs have increased. When you’re offshore you lose some control over manufacturing processes and trade secrets.”
Manufacturers’ News compiles and publishes industrial directories and databases, including the Illinois Manufacturers Directory.
Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operations officer at the Illinois Manufacturers Association, offers other reasons for the return of some manufacturing jobs. The IMA is a trade association representing about 4,000 manufacturers.
“I think there are a number of issues,” Denzler said. “The U.S. has kind of come out of the recession. There’s a resurgence in the auto industry. The rail industry is growing along with the pharmaceutical industry. 2011 was the first time we saw a net increase in jobs since 1998.”
Prof. Bob Bruno also thinks manufacturing might experience a mild increase. Bruno is director of the labor education program at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
“Unions have negotiated lower entry-level wages,” Bruno said. “The cost of borrowing money is low. Healthcare costs will be somewhat alleviated by the Affordable Care Act when it comes into force. I think manufacturing is on a bit of a rebound.”
That’s good news for overall employment rates. For every manufacturing job created, another five to seven support jobs are created, Bruno said.
Still, it’s a bit early to break out the champagne.
“When we started this millennium we had about 900,000 jobs,” Denzler said. “We have about 600,000 now. We think there will be a growing trend. I’m not sure we will get back to where we were 15 years ago due to increases in productivity and automation.”
Manufacturers decide where to locate based on a number of factors. Those include a skilled labor force, the cost of labor, transportation access and cost, friendliness of the host community, proximity to suppliers or market and tax subsidies.
John Schneider, economic development director for the village of Franklin Park, works to attract and retain manufacturing and other types of business. He talks to industrial brokers, makes cold calls, mails out lists of available properties, talks to the Alliance of Illinois Manufacturers and similar groups and goes on “retention visits” to businesses most Fridays.
“I’ve become a kind of cheerleader for this,” Schneider said.
Franklin Park, said Schneider, can offer appropriately priced sites, proximity to Chicago, various modes of transportation (O’Hare, rail, expressway), quick turnaround on permitting, assistance in researching subsidy programs and access to quality employees.
Manufacturers, including in Franklin Park, claim difficulty in finding employees with needed skills. Bruno said there is “some validity” to that claim.
Denzler said workforce training is a huge issue.
“There are 300,000 (manufacturing employees) expected to retire in the next 10 to 15 years,” Denzler said. “Not only do we have to replace those but also add new hires.