Research Finds More Indiana Manufacturing Jobs Loss To Offshoring Than Automation

Dec 3, 2018

A new study shows Indiana workers should worry less about being replaced by a robot and more about their job being sent to another country.

Last month an Indiana University study was published analyzing between robots and outsourcing as the main source for the decline in manufacturing.

There are fewer manufacturing jobs in the U.S. than there were 15 years ago.

Indiana Business Research Center director of economic analysis Timothy Slaper says he found that odd in a good economy.

“Even when the overall national economy was expanding, we were still losing a good chunk of our manufacturing employment,” says Slaper. “And that was something of a headscratcher.”

In an annual survey given to Indiana manufacturers, business leaders list automation as their top priority, even ahead of workforce development. However, Slaper says his research suggests the offshoring of jobs is the leading cause of a decline in the manufacturing workforce.

“We made a sufficient case that the indicators are pointing in the direction that it was indeed offshoring, the loss of jobs to locations such as China or Mexico rather than investment to robotics,” he says.

This research contrasts what Ball State economists published last year, which found automation was the prevailing source of job loss in manufacturing.

Indiana is one of top manufacturing states in the country, accounting for more than $98 billion in state output in 2016.