How is the unemployment rate so low if we do so little in the way of local manufacturing these days?
Well, there are a few reasons for this, all adding up to a very good answer.
First up, the baby boomers (Australia's largest generation) have been busy retiring en masse for over 10 years now and there's plenty more of them to retire over the next several years.
One of Australia's solutions to this loss of labour force was the baby bonus introduced in the 2002 federal budget (after the Aussie birth rate hit a record low in 2001), while Canada's current strategy to address the challenge of an aging population is immigration.
There's a lot more to it than that though.
More than 75 per cent of the Australian workforce is categorised as being in the service industry. However, plenty of things still get made in this rather broad category, from cafe coffees to landscaped gardens.
Many services don't count as manufacturing though, simply because they're not packaged up as products to sell, rather, they are made to order for the individual customer on the spot.
To return to our question though, a lot of local entrepreneurs have taken matters into their own hands to gainfully employ themselves. Because the thing is, manufacturing isn't just large-scale factories. Lots of boutique and custom products are made on a much smaller scale. Sometimes so small in scale that it's a single person working from home.
Such small scale operations can include products like scented candles, art works of various kinds, content creation for various platforms, novelty face masks, gourmet pet food and treats, and much more.
Some of the common small-ish operations around Australia that do have a business premises can include jewellrey, craft beer, winemaking, and all sorts of other crafts from stuffed toys to home decor.
Custom and tailored clothing from sleepwear to formal wear is another category that can usually be found locally in a lot of populated centres.
Repairs are also another service that require the skills to make things in order to make them once again function as good as new.
Replacement or custom keys for cars, homes or businesses are also a local service that requires something to be made. And before you say that keys are made from a blank, where did the fabric, wax, ingredients, components or other sources of raw or unfinished material come from for other things that often get made locally?
Same goes for homes and almost all other large buildings. They too had to be made (at least assembled) right where they stand, but they require a mix of manufactured parts and local services in order for them to be assembled and fitted out.
So don't try to say we don't make anything here anymore. We make plenty.