By:  Jeff Della Rosa

U.S. legislators highlighted the importance of training in manufacturing and the state of the industry during an event hosted at a post-secondary school in Springdale.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, and U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, were among those who attended the Manufacturing Day 2016 event at Northwest Technical Institute on Thursday (Oct. 6).

“This is where it all begins,” Boozman said.

The event puts a spotlight on how important the manufacturing sector is to Northwest Arkansas, Womack said.

Manufacturing jobs offer people the ability to support their families, he said. The better the quality of life is in Northwest Arkansas, the more people who will live here.

While earnings for manufacturing workers have been increasing, the number of people who work in manufacturing has been decreasing in Arkansas and across the United States.

In Arkansas, the number of workers fell about 1 percent to 152,900 since August 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, average hourly earnings increased 2 percent to $26.03 in the same period.

Boozman explained that changes in technology contributed to the decline in the number of manufacturing workers. And jobs in robotics requires a higher level of skills to operate.

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