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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

Ina Fried, author of Login
46 mins ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 49 mins ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO wants to compete against Apple

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger hasn't given up on the idea of the Mac once again using Intel chips, but he acknowledges it will probably be years before he gets that chance.

  • In the meantime, he is focused on powering Windows machines that give Apple CEO Tim Cook a run for his money.

Why it matters: In getting pushed out of the Mac, Intel not only lost a customer but picked up a new rival.