Saturday, August 13, 2022

US economy grew 1.7% in fourth quarter, capping a strong year

Still, the average business owner “sees a very strong environment right now,” said Oren Klachkin, chief economist for US industry and regional research at Oxford Economics. “They want to increase investment because they want to meet that demand — and they have every reason to invest.”

Jeff Somple, president of Mac Molding — a contract manufacturer in Arlington, VT that makes custom components and complete products for other companies — said the business has been profitable, even booming. But staff shortages and supply constraints mean their factories can’t keep up with production capacity. As a result his team often has to turn down orders.

“Every day, our No. 1 challenge is chasing down the parts we need to make a product,” he said, whether it’s raw resin or circuit boards from China, and then “finding enough people” on assembly. To work, he said.

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The company has increased the entry-level salary to about $15 an hour and the median wage to about $20 an hour. This didn’t stop the hordes of employees from leaving the business or changing careers as the business grew.

Some preferred work-from-home opportunities, Mr. Somple said, or options for more flexible hours than those offered on the factory floor. Many of those who have remained have been absent this winter because of the spread of the Covid-19 infection: “It’s kind of whack-a-mole when we come over on Monday and we ask, ‘Who’s working? What other parts are showing that we can put in the products we make?’”

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When bidding for circuit boards, the lead time in some cases – from the number of days the order is placed to the number of days those items arrive at the plant – has been one year. “We can have 30 different suppliers that we depend on to make a product,” he explained. “So if one supplier has a problem and frustrates us, you know we can shut down an entire production line with 20 people working because we can’t get this one thing.”

Leisure, hospitality, travel and other related service-based sectors brace for the worst winter and what is left of the Omicron boom, while businesses and consumers expect a vibrant return to something like normal.

Nation World News Desk
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