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The scoop on U.S. worker confidence

February 6, 2013

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In the early days of 2013, January 3, to be exact, Randstad released the results of its December U.S. Employee Confidence survey that painted a rosy picture heading into the new year. The Confidence Index was 55.4, one of the highest levels of optimism recorded in 2012. The Index, which...

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Retirement: A quaint idea

January 31, 2013

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Don’t you just love it when you read an article on a major news site that makes you go, “Well, duh!” Such was the case today when I read a feature story on nbcnews.com about how fewer Americans count on retiring by 65 (unfortunately, the link to this article no longer works). As reported by...

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The story behind the story

January 30, 2013

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The latest big-picture economic assessment is out, and the headlines don’t tell a pretty story. As measured by gross domestic output (GDP), the U.S. economy contracted slightly during the final quarter of 2012. A surprise? Yes, even for many economists. A reflection of the national mood at the...

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Taking control of training efforts

January 25, 2013

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A&E Custom Manufacturing, Kansas City, Kan., isn't much different from other metal fabricators today. It is looking for the right skilled employees. "If we could find the people, we would probably add four to five employees," said John Jaixen, A&E's general manager, in December....

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Debt and equity

January 23, 2013

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A couple of weeks ago, my esteemed fellow blogger and close watcher of all things economic, Eric Lundin, wrote a post entitled “We’ve all fallen off the fiscal cliff.” Commenting on the last-minute deal Congress approved to avoid sending the U.S. economy off the fiscal cliff, Lundin said,...

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The real costs behind miscommunication

January 22, 2013

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At the last FABTECH® show, I ran into an engineer who works for GE Appliance & Lighting, looking for products that would speed that all-important art-to-part time--that all-important product-development time. Their comments make sense in light of recent growth of the company’s Louisville,...

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Good teachers make good welders

January 16, 2013

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It may have been the 11 young welders competing at the AWS/SkillsUSA U.S. Invitational Weld Trials at FABTECH® 2012 in Las Vegas who were in the limelight, but behind each of those students was a teacher who helped them get to that point. Six of those 11 welders were vying for three spots to...

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The Stingray returns

January 15, 2013

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A 6.2-liter engine, 450 horsepower, zero to 60 miles per hour in less than 4 seconds, and a redesigned exterior that exudes cool from bumper to bumper. It’s not a foreign car with a funny-sounding name and a price tag with as many digits as the federal debt. It’s a domestic model guaranteed to...

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Focusing on information waste

January 15, 2013

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Yesterday the Brookings Institution, along with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, proposed a program that would involve the federal government designating 20 “manufacturing universities” to prepare students for the sectors that need engineering help. Most intriguing, perhaps...

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Mexico's other competitive advantage

January 11, 2013

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It used to be just labor cost, but apparently Mexico has another secret weapon in trying to expand its role as the world's manufacturing partner: It can churn out engineering and manufacturing talent for the large multinational manufacturers looking to locate in North America. Don't believe it?...

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We’ve all fallen off the fiscal cliff

January 10, 2013

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If the headlines from a week ago are to be believed, Congress got its act together and cobbled together a last-minute deal to avoid sending the U.S. economy off the fiscal cliff. Needless to say, I don’t believe it. Yes, superficially, the new legislation prevented the U.S. economy from becoming...

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New Year, less money

January 9, 2013

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It’s a New Year, and we escaped falling off the fiscal cliff, thanks to the very last-minute, drama-laden efforts of Congress to pass a bill to avert a much-portended catastrophe. In fact, if you went to bed too early on New Year’s Eve, which I apparently did, you fell asleep thinking we were...

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Metal fabricating with focus amid chaos

January 8, 2013

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Early last year, I recall eating lunch in the break room at Atlanta-based Metcam, which hosted a press brake training seminar run by Steve Benson and organized by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association. Sitting across from me was a press brake supervisor, we chatted a bit about his tours...

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Chipmunks on the fiscal cliff

December 18, 2012

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In 2009 and 2010, I offered a little tongue-in-cheek look at current issues in December blog posts—one a parody of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and the other, a really lame take on “Let it Snow.” This year, I was motivated by Alvin and the Chipmunks to revive this holiday exercise to...

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Thoughts on the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary

December 18, 2012

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It’s difficult to write today. The events of last Friday, Dec. 14, continue to weigh on my mind and the minds of everyone I know. Looking at all the sweet faces of innocent young children and those brave souls who tried to protect them is almost unbearable. You can’t do so without thinking of...

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