U.S. job training efforts and economic statistics should include a broader look at manufacturing processes, according to a recent report by the Brookings Institution.
In the report, authors Kate Whitefoot and Walter Valdivia note current manufacturing statistics don't account for services before or after production, from initial research and development to follow-up service and maintenance.
As a result, while official numbers showed the manufacturing sector lost millions of jobs between 2002 and 2010 — largely due to the 2008 recession — they did not account for gains in pre-production processes during that span.
Employment in market analysis, for example, expanded 26 percent during those years, while design and technical services increased 23 percent and research and development expanded 13 percent. Wages in those areas, meanwhile, increased by more than 10 percent. The report said similar patterns would likely take shape in the near future, with the largest gains expected in technical occupations.
"In particular, policies aimed at revitalizing manufacturing should consider its entire value chain and not simply focus on the production segment of it," the authors wrote.
To that end, the report recommended that officials supplement current industry-specific job statistics with survey questions about the entire production process, and that the White House's advanced manufacturing panel account for jobs outside the factory.
Higher education institutions, meanwhile, should distribute job growth and earnings projections to students and consider adjusting their curriculums to meet potential uncertainty in high-skill positions.