The U.S., like other rich nations, is in the early stages of a period of dramatic population aging. The share of the population 60 and older increased from 16.8 percent in 1990 to 18.5 percent in 2011; by 2025, United Nations demographers predict that nearly one-quarter of the United States will be in this cohort.

The manufacturing sector appears to be disproportionately experiencing the ramifications of an aging workforce. In 2000, the median age of the manufacturing workforce—at 40.5—was 1.1 years above the median age of the total non-farm workforce. By 2012, this gap doubled, with the median age in manufacturing being 44.7 years versus 42.3 years for the total non-farm workforce.

The U.S. factory sector clearly needs an influx of young talent. In addition to focusing on educational needs, the nation must convince its university graduates and younger workers that there are rewards in a manufacturing career.

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