Die and moldmaking industries in decline

Over the past six months, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has investigated the competitive conditions facing the U.S. tool, die, and industrial-mold industries. As part of its investigation, the ITC held a public hearing on May 21, 2002, whi

Over the past six months, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has investigated the competitive conditions facing the U.S. tool, die, and industrial-mold industries. As part of its investigation, the ITC held a public hearing on May 21, 2002, which, among other things, addressed the impact of globalization and U.S. producers' concerns about the competitive conditions facing their industries..

D-M-E Co., Madison Heights, Mich., presented results of a die/mold industry survey to the ITC as a contribution to that hearing. The study was an independent survey completed by approximately 1,000 companies in the U.S. industrial die/mold industries. Of the survey respondents, 85% were manufacturers of molds for plastics, 10% were manufacturers of die casting dies for metal, and 5% were manufacturers of stamping dies for metal.

According to the survey, moldmaking sales and profit figures have declined since 1997. The extrapolated total sales figure for the U.S. moldmaking industry as a whole in 2001 was $8.4 billion. On a weighted average basis, overall sales in the U.S. moldmaking industry were down 28.1% from 1997 to 2001. On an extrapolated basis, this 28.1% decline in sales equates to a $3.3 billion decrease in sales for the U.S. moldmaking industry.

Based on the sales-andprofit-percentage declines from 1997 to 2001, the reduction in taxable corporate income is $2.2 billion. This does not consider the additional tax revenues lost from displaced employees and employees whose wages have been reduced due to pay cuts and/or loss of overtime hours.

Another alarming trend is the decrease in moldmaking employment levels, which have been significantly declining since 1997. On a weighted average, the overall employment level for mold-making companies that are still in business is down 23.8% between 1997 and 2001. This equates to an elimination of 46,000 employees for the companies that are still in business. Combining a documented list of more than 200 U.S. moldmaking companies that have gone out of business since 1997 and the number of employees directly impacted by personnel cutbacks (the aforementioned 46,000), a total of more than 52,000 mold-making professionals have lost their jobs since 1997. The average number of hours worked per week per employee was 50.3 hours in 1997. However, survey respondents reported that in 2000 the weekly average of hours worked had dropped to 40.6 hours. This decline represents a 19.3% decrease in the average number of hours worked per week, per mold-making-industry employee between 1997 and 2000. The reduction in average hours worked for the mold-making companies currently in business represents 46,800 "full-time equivalent" jobs lost. That figure, combined with the more than 52,000 moldmaking professionals who have lost their jobs because of personnel cutbacks or closed moldmaking businesses, brings the total to 98,800 "full-time equivalent" plus "actual" jobs lost in the U.S. moldmaking industry since 1997. The ITC will send its investigation report to the Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, by Oct. 21, 2002.

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