Who knew that a 160-year-old industry could be a leader in today’s modern economy? We did! Lead batteries are contributing to the highest growth in manufacturing jobs within the past 30 years. What’s more, lead batteries are playing a critical role in a greener, more environmentally sustainable economy.
In conjunction with National Manufacturing Day on Oct. 4, Battery Council International has released a new study, “Economic Contribution of the U.S. Lead Battery Industry.” The study concludes that in 2018, the lead battery manufacturing, recycling and mining industries made a $26.3 billion economic impact annually.
Impressive Job Growth
How does that economic data manifest? Jobs. Since the industry began compiling collective economic data in 2016, there has been a 20% increase in reported direct industry jobs. At the close of 2018, the U.S. lead battery industry provided nearly 25,000 direct jobs across 29 states.
Overall, the industry provides more than 92,000 total jobs, when factoring in suppliers and worker spending in different industries. That’s not surprising, considering the essential nature of lead batteries to power our economy, and keep us mobile and connected.
More Livable Wage Jobs
Other key findings of the report found that jobs within the lead battery industry provide a solid foothold to the middle class via accessible, livable wages. Compared to other private sector jobs, average salaries in the lead battery industry are:
- 96% higher for recycling and mining workers
- 28% higher for manufacturing workers
What’s Driving the Growth?
- Lead batteries keep us mobile and connected. Approximately 60% of all forklifts in the U.S. use lead batteries to move the materials that fuel our economy. Lead batteries also power more than 275 million cars and trucks in the U.S. That includes most electric vehicles and hybrids, as well as traditional autos powered by an SLI battery (starting, lighting and ignition).
Those vehicles are driven by a highly mobile society that’s constantly on the go – whether to work, play or relax. But even as we travel, we stay connected (96% of Americans own a cell phone.) The batteries in those cell phones aren’t lead technology, but the infrastructure that makes them work is powered by lead batteries that have established a critical U.S. communications infrastructure worth more than $1 trillion.
- Lead batteries feed a circular, greener economy. The lead battery industry is a member of a special club – the 16% of U.S. businesses that have moved to a circular economy. This means the industry fosters an economic model that both protects the environment and stays commercially competitive to meet future transportation and energy storage needs.
By using sustainable materials management throughout the life cycle of a lead battery, the industry follows a make-use-recycle-remanufacture pattern. For example, the U.S. recycles over 99% of its spent lead batteries. Then, it takes the battery’s three core elements – lead, sulfuric acid and plastic – and reuses them over and over; about 80% of a new lead battery is comprised of recycled material. In fact, lead can be recycled an infinite number of times without affecting its performance.
Lead batteries also provide more than 70% of the world’s rechargeable energy storage needs, including those of the booming renewable energy sector. Furthermore, through supporting start-stop technology, lead batteries eliminate 4.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually in the U.S.
Investing in Future Solutions
The U.S. lead battery industry represents a thriving segment of the U.S. economy and workforce. Plus, the industry is positioned to keep growing. In 2018, it invested over $100 million in research and innovation to continue meeting the rapidly changing transportation and energy needs of its users.
As members of the lead battery community, we salute everyone who is contributing to our country’s growing – and growing greener – economy. Thank you!