Manufacturing Is Coming Back To The U.S. -- And Hiring

Manufacturing jobs are on the rebound. Is American manufacturing poised for a comeback? The manufacturing industry lost 6 million jobs in the first decade of this century, but many experts say that the turnaround has already begun. According to one estimate by the Boston Consulting Group, as many as five million more positions could be recovered by 2020, due, in part, to Chinese labor becoming more expensive and less productive than the American workforce. (This figure includes service-related positions, like plant janitors and accountants.)

"There's a point when companies are indifferent to making things in the U.S.," Hal Sirkin, a senior partner with the Boston Consulting Group, says in an interview with AOL Jobs. And so they they decide there's no advantage in doing the work abroad. "We think that's 2015," Sirkin says.

More:Manufacturing: Jobs Boom Is For Real

There are some caveats, of course. Many new manufacturing jobs don't pay the middle-class wages that they did when manufacturing was in its 20th century heyday; according to Reuters financial columnist Felix Salmon, some of these new positions pay as little as $13.50 an hour. Some of the best-paying positions require technical skills and training. But there is no doubt that manufacturing is on the upswing; if you want to zero in on the opportunities, here are the four sectors to explore, with links to some job openings.

1. Auto Industry

"Hiring now" is not a phrase that's often been connected with the auto industry in recent years. But the Ford Motor Co. says that it will invest $6.2 billion to expand its manufacturing operations in the U.S., saving 3,240 jobs and adding another 12,000 positions.

General Motors, the country's largest automaker, announced in January that it will spend $600 million to expand an assembly plant near Kansas City, saving some 4,000 jobs. Chrysler, as well, has announced plans to add manufacturing jobs.

%VIRTUAL-hiringNow-skilledlabor%2. Electronics and Plastics Industries

In his State of the Union address, President Obama hailed the return of manufacturing in the U.S. In doing so, he pointed to the success of renovating a closed warehouse in Youngstown, Ohio, into a new plant for creating 3D-printers. As CNET explains, additive manufacturing, another term for 3-D printing, allows for the creation an array of products, from chess sets to titanium parts for jet fighters -- from digital processes (as opposed to a classic machine work that utilizes raw materials). Training is required to manufacture the state-of-the-art printers.

Innovation is also at the heart of the return of plastics production in the U.S. Denver-based Intertech Plastics Inc. reshored manufacturing last year from Asia and Mexico, and new plants are focusing on so-called injection molding. That process features the heating of a variety of materials, ranging from hard metals to glasses, to improve household and industrial plastic goods. By moving manufacturing back to the U.S., Intertech has been able to increase sales from $20 million in 2011 to $40 million last year. Speaking to Plastics News, Intertech President Noel Ginsburg said that his clients particularly liked his company's "cradle to grave service," meaning that the entire production from design to shipping, takes place at the U.S. plant.

3. Computer Sector

After outsourcing production in China (and coming under fire for labor conditions), tech giant Apple announced in December that it will begin producing some Macs computers in the United States. Macs, however, comprise about a fifth of the company's total annual revenue, the rest of it coming from iPhones and iPads, which will continue to be made in China.

One Chinese computing company, Lenovo, however, has decided to move some of its operations to the U.S. In October, Lenovo, announced it will open a factory in North Carolina to produce laptops, PCs and tablets under its Think brand. Initially the factory will offer 115 jobs, according to Computerworld, an information technology magazine.

4. Appliance Makers

Another company that has begun slowly adding manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is the Whirlpool Corp. Last year, for the first time in six years, the company's KitchenAid hand mixers were produced in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal. The first new plant, based in Ohio, is producing the plastic parts to accompany the motors that are still being produced in China. At first, the company brought on 25 new workers, but has announced plans to add even more workers to manufacture dryers, according to local Ohio news reports.

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