Blog! Five Fast Things for December 12, 2006

By Bob Vavra, Editor, Plant Engineering December 13, 2006

1. The fallout from immigration raids: Six Swift meatpacking plants around the country were raided Monday in a concentrated federal effort to find workers with stolen or fraudulent documentations. The immigrants rounded up in the raids are believed to have bought or stolen their documentation.

There are two issues here. One is that no supervisors or company officials above the worker level were seized in the raid. Despite a company denial of the knowledge of such phony documentation, the issue with illegal immigration is the basic law of supply and demand. If there is no supply of jobs, there’s no reason for workers to come. And if you’re going to punish the workers, where does the company responsibility lie?

Perhaps a bigger issue for the communities affected by the raids is summed up in this article in the Greeley (CO) Tribune. If you institutionalize illegal immigration, as has happened in so many communities in America, there is a very real cost when you crack down on it.

And who will do those jobs tomorrow? The jobs didn’t go away; just the workers who did the jobs.

2. Other employment news: Hiring is stable but cautious as we head into 2007, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook study released yesterday. In the manufacturing sector, the study finds hiring for non-durable goods jobs will remain steady, while durable goods manufacturers project weaker hiring.

To add your view of the state of manufacturing heading into 2007, take the poll on our home page . For our view of the state of manufacturing jobs, look for the January issue of Plant Engineering and our annual Salary Survey.

3. What category does this fall into? At $599 a pop, most folks expect the Sony PS3 to be a durable item. But not against everything

4. Technology spending is up: That’s the news according to The Association For Manufacturing Technology and the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association. Manufacturing technology spending is up almost 28% in 2006. While spending dropped 10% from September, it was still up more than 41% over October 2005, to $368 million for the month.

“It has been two years since there has been two consecutive months with year over year growth as strong as this September and October,” says John B. Byrd III, AMT President. “This indicates that manufacturing technology equipment order growth is accelerating, not slowing.”

5. Where are the Top Plants? The answer is Kentucky, Nebraska and South Carolina. Which companies? You’ll have to wait for Friday to find out when Plant Engineering announces its 2006 Top Plant winners.