Farming, Manufacturing Gain From Increasing Global Demand
US Unemployment Rate Declines
The economy produced an additional 236,000 jobs in February bringing the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent with much of the gain in the professional services.
While the data is good news, Rex Nutting of MarketWatch notes that it is not truly reflective of the current employment situation. In fact, while the participation rate is currently 63.5 percent, which when factored into the equation actually means the unemployment rate is 12.1 percent.
As economists look to which sectors of the economy will drive further growth few would reflexively point to farming and manufacturing. Many would be surprised to find that agriculture and “hard industries” remain key drivers in many economies, according to NewGeography.
“Farm exports have surged in recent years with the US exporting a record $135 billion worth of agricultural goods, with a net favorable balance of $47 billion, partly as a consequence of the insatiable consumption by China, which consumes 60 percent of the world’s soybean exports.”
Technology Key To Transforming Industries
Although Silicon Valley is no longer the boom town it once was, technology does play a key role in the rebirth of manufacturing, particularly in the energy industry.
“Perhaps even more transformative has been the energy boom, largely sparked by new technologies such as fracking and deepwater drilling. This has transformed the Great Plains alone into the world’s 14th largest oil producer, roughly on a par with Nigeria and Norway.
Energy Sector Sees Increasing Demand For Workers
Since 2009 the industry, according to EMSI, has added some 430,000 jobs, with the largest share going to Texas, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.
While technology is playing a key role in transforming manufacturing, there are some areas where a rebound is unlikely to occur – namely in the coal industry. And while jobs may move to other energy sectors, there are plenty of retired coal miners who are left to cope with physical problems and dwindling pension benefits.
Coal Industry Proves To Be A Costly Exception To The Rule
First, the United Mineworkers of America’s pension plan, which was established in 1974 and covers more than 100,000 retired miners, is seriously underfunded. That’s partly because of losses from the recent financial crisis and partly because contributions are dwindling — as time passes, there are fewer and fewer mining companies left to chip in to the multi-employer plan, reports The Washington Post.