The first full work week of 2020 is in the books. Let's celebrate that with a quick recap of the top stories in engineering, manufacturing and hiring.
If you’re following the record highs being notched by the stock market you might think the economy is crushing it, but you'd be in for a big surprise. Truth is that manufacturing is not looking too hot and hasn't been for some time. The December ISM index fell to 47.2 from 48.1, indicating the fifth straight month of contraction and badly missing economists' estimates of a rise. How bad is that number exactly? Well, figures below 50 indicate shrinking factory activity, and the recent reading is the worst since the end of the Great Recession. As the country’s largest manufacturer, Boeing’s never-ending 737 Max troubles is weighing on the industry along with the ongoing trade war. Fortunately, manufacturing only represents a small part of the US economy so the nation can withstand the blow.
In what amounts to a stunning, but at this point, necessary, reversal, Boeing is now recommending simulation training for pilots of its beleaguered Boeing 737 Max. To get you up to speed, the entire selling point of the Max was that it was a fuel economizing airplane designed to rival the fast-selling Airbus A320, and since it was part of the 737 product line that pilots already know how to fly, no expensive simulation training was necessary. But the pair of deadly Max crashes last year combined with monumental challenges in integrating new flight software into the controls has forced the US planemaker to recommend simulation training that will cost airlines millions.
Before the first week of the new year ended, SpaceX had already performed another successful launch and recovery of its Falcon 9 reusable rocket. The aerospace company used the vehicle to insert a third batch of its Starlink satellites into orbit as it continues building out its internet-beaming constellation set to go online this year. As of last count, SpaceX now has over 170 working satellites cruising around the planet, to the consternation of stargazers who are frustrated that the shiny objects are interfering with their view of the cosmos. SpaceX is taking steps to reduce the glare of the satellites, but will continue executing its plan of launching upwards of 42,000 satellite all the same.
LinkedIn is out with new data spotlighting how 12 US cities are managing to thrive on the back of a single industry. Huntsville, AL; Evansville, IN; Detroit, MI and Greenville, SC are relying on manufacturing to bring in the bacon. Healthcare is the heavy hitter in Kalamazoo, MI; Raleigh-Durham, NC; Boston, MA; Cincinnati, OH; Allentown, PA and Erie PA. Retail, thanks to Wal-Mart, is king in Bentonville, AR. And Des Moines, IA has become a hub of finance. While a diversity of industries helps provide a hedge against economic downturn, these dozen cities, for now, have jobs to spare.
Tesla, an automobile manufacturer that has only been around for a handful of years, is now the most valuable US car company in the history of Earth. Let that sink in a minute. News that the Tesla Model 3 is selling and shipping like hot cakes has sent shares of Elon Musk’s all-electric automobile venture soaring. Although Tesla has yet to turn an annual profit, it nevertheless sports a market cap of over $81 billion, surpassing the previous record holder Ford which notched $80.81 billion in 1999. Still, Tesla has a way to go before overtaking Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. ($98 billion) and Germany’s Volkswagen AG ($231 billion).
Interested in more news you can use? Check out our penultimate Weekly Roundup.
A bi-weekly roundup of the latest happenings in industrial tech, hiring and the future of work.