Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Manufacturing in the U.S. faces a labor shortage at a scale not seen in decades, as the country's economy expands and aging workers retire — only half of whom will be replaced by new ones.

Why it matters: For the U.S. to stay competitive, experts say it must take a page from the Chinese playbook. As we’ve reported, China is investing billions in factory robots as wages rise and labor becomes more expensive.

By the numbers: A study released Wednesday by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute paints a dire picture of the manufacturing labor shortage.

  • In the next 10 years, they expect 4.6 million new manufacturing jobs to be created, 2.4 million of which will remain unfilled because of a skills shortage.
  • Nearly half of those openings will result from retirement, as baby boomers leave the workforce en masse.
  • Over the course of the decade, this shortage could cost the U.S. economy $2.5 trillion.

Companies are making short-term changes, like offering higher salaries and relaxing hiring requirements, to attract skilled workers, the study found.

  • Perks like remote work could lure new workers — like women and college graduates — who typically shy away from manufacturing jobs, said Paul Wellener, who leads the U.S. industrial products and construction practice at Deloitte.
  • The study also calls for companies to implement training programs and hire gig economy workers to help make up the shortage.

The bottom line: In the long term, automation will help close the gap — but it will take immediate investment in robotics to get there, according to a recent report on manufacturing competitiveness from Boston Consulting Group and Carnegie Mellon University.

  • "The US urgently needs a more aggressive approach to developing and adopting robotic technologies for manufacturing," the report’s authors wrote.
  • Robots will help counteract several forces threatening to hold back manufacturing in the U.S.: the labor shortage, decreasing productivity, rising barriers to trade and China's swift robotization.

Go deeper

38 mins ago - Sports

13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive for coronavirus

Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Seven players and six staff members from the St. Louis Cardinals have tested positive for the coronavirus over the past week, prompting the MLB to postpone the team's upcoming four-game series against the Detroit Tigers.

Why it matters: Seven consecutive Cardinals games have now been canceled after St. Louis became the second team to report a significant coronavirus outbreak, just two weeks into the season.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 18,149,860 — Total deaths: 690,624 — Total recoveries — 10,753,318Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 4,690,404 — Total deaths: 155,124 — Total recoveries: 1,468,689 — Total tests: 56,812,162Map.
  3. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  4. Business: Virtual school is another setback for retail — The pandemic hasn't hampered health care.
  5. Public health: Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign for schools.
1 hour ago - Podcasts

White House adviser Peter Navarro talks TikTok

President Trump has relaxed his threat to immediately ban the popular social media app TikTok, giving Microsoft room to negotiate an acquisition from Chinese tech giant ByteDance.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the situation with Peter Navarro, the White House's top trade adviser and a noted China hawk, who suggests Microsoft should be forced to make unrelated concessions related to its China operations.