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The New Yavapai Economy: trade & manufacturing

In the last three decades the U.S. has been confronted with the proliferation of globalization, in other words, comparative advantages for producing in other countries. These include everything from cheaper labor to lower rents to various approaches in regulatory environments. In the last 18 years, the nation lost 30% of its manufacturing jobs. The ten year labor projection from U.S. Department of Labor predicts that by 2025 the U.S. will be primarily a service industry workforce, further enforcing this idea that livable-wage, production oriented occupations are going overseas or becoming automated.

While this remains the 10,000 foot view, there are elements of national and local economies that are signaling sparks of change in manufacturing. According to the Federal Reserve, quarterly output in the U.S. has grown by 35% since the middle of 2009, and the manufacturing sector in total has added 650,000 jobs. This increase is partially due to the increase in demand for custom manufacturing and fabrication. Rural America, and rural Arizona in particular, has the potential to create resilient economic foundation by investing in custom manufacturing. In Yavapai County, employment in small arms and ordnance accessories increased by 8% since 2014, employment in semiconductor machinery manufacturing grew by 17% in the same period, and miscellaneous and custom manufacturing increased by 8%. Average wages in these occupations range from $43,200 to $55,000.

Investment to maintain community efforts in this sector, including local educational institutions that prepare a multifaceted labor force and small business technical assistance through the YC SBDC and SCORE, will contribute to the growth of Yavapai’s new economy and create opportunity for future generations.

Alexandria M. Wright is director of the Yavapai College Regional Economic Development Center. The center provides analysis and services that facilitate economic development throughout Yavapai County and build wealth in our local communities.

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