Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bicycle Manufacturing - A bright spot of American manufacturing in an otherwise dim outlook.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently forecast that the manufacturing sector of the US economy is going to shed even more jobs into the foreseeable future, which for them is to the year 2020. While the manufacturing losses aren't expected to be big, on the order of several thousand jobs, compared to the millions of the last two decades. Nonetheless, the 'loss of growth' in this important sector is going to hamper the US's long term recovery.

One bright, albeit small spot in this area is bicycle manufacturing. According to the US Economic Census of 2002 there were only 36 American bicycle & bicycle part manufacturers here in the US, employing a little over 3,000 people who had added 465 million dollars the economy.

By 2007 the number of bicycle companies in the US had swelled to over 300, with the total employed at nearly 9,500 who had produced right at 1 billion dollars in goods. The data shows a trend towards more numerous but smaller companies, mostly individuals. The 2012 Economic Census data is not due to be released until 2014 and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

Bicycle 'manufacturing' did not show up in the BLS's forecast of the 2010-2020 top 30 occupations with the fastest job growth. Actually no manufacturing occupations did, but 'bicycle repairers' did, with a projected growth of 37% or about 3700 jobs.

For the record a BLS 'repairer' is described as one who 'installs, maintains, or repairs', so it's reasonable to assume that many, if not most of the BLS bicycle repairers are also included in the US Economic Census manufacturers data.

Apart from starting this blog, I also maintain a website dedicated strictly to American made products, and I am compiling a list of American bicycle companies with over 102 listed to date.