Manufacturing Statistics

Blame Bob Potts, UNLV’s assistant director for the Center for Business and Economic Research, for being a hard-core realist.

Manufacturers’ News Inc., or MNI, an Illinois-based publisher of manufacturers’ directories, recently released its state-by-state 2012 jobs statistics. The Silver State now has 54,955 manufacturing jobs, down from its 2009 peak of 63,745. Overall, the report paints a picture of a stabilizing manufacturing sector, with job losses slowing and a recovery gaining momentum.

But Potts, who pulls his numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only counts 35,900 Nevada manufacturing jobs, and adds that some of that number may be inflated by soft sectors such as commercial and digital printing. MNI also included the metal-mining industry’s 6,000 jobs in its count. Perhaps we weren’t aware of the fact that miners manufactured finished products in the Nevada as well?

Jennifer Ratcliff, a spokesperson for MNI, says the company uses industrial classification codes from the U.S. Department of Commerce instead of relying on the Bureau of Labor Statistics for how it defines a manufacturing job. Thus her group gives a “larger, more comprehensive” definition.

Yes indeed, when a counter clerk at FedEx Kinko’s is considered a manufacturing job, the word “creative” should be added to the way the job is defined. Many may remember, “creative” financing also helped so many Americans achieve the dream of home ownership during the housing boom.

Getting real about the true size of the state’s tiny manufacturing sector could be a tough pill to swallow for those looking to diversify our economy. But we’re sure those marketing Nevada as a place for manufacturing businesses to relocate prefer MNI’s comprehensive and creative analysis.