(NaturalNews) President Obama's regulatory and fiscal policies have been blamed for keeping unemployment high, but one industry where there has been dramatic jobs growth is not likely one the president is happy about - firearms.
"Guns and ammo are selling briskly these days, and that means weapons makers are hiring. Some manufacturers are scrambling to find enough workers," CNNMoney reports.
In one example, Mike Weddle - chief of maintenance at Dynamic Research Technologies, an ammunition manufacturer in Albany, Mo. - said he is adding 10 new workers to his present staff of 35. The firm's machine operators earn between $10 and $17 an hour, a pretty good wage in a region where it is hard to find work and the cost of living is fairly low.
Right now, DRT makes 80,000 rounds per shift. The plant is operating two shifts per day. But that's not enough to meet the surging demand, which has been triggered in large part by renewed gun control efforts on the federal level (and in some states, like New York and Colorado). So, Weddle says he will add a third shift and is planning to build an additional manufacturing building.
"Demand picked up a year ago -- it quadrupled," he told CNNMoney. "It just went crazy."
One of the hardest calibers to keep in stock, he says, is .223, which is primarily used in semi-automatic rifles.
Shortages spreading - and worsening
DRT is just a small part of an industry which employs some 240,000 people nationwide, and that figure - again, led by shortages of weapons and ammunition (led in large part by the Department of Homeland Security's plans to buy 2 billion rounds of ammunition over the next few years) - is growing.
"Sturm, Ruger and Smith & Wesson have both added manufacturing capacity, which includes labor and shifts, in the past year," Wedbush Securities analyst Rommel Dionisio told the website.
Calib Ogilvie, a concealed-carry instructor employed by Cabot Gun & Ammo in Cabot, Ark., said employees at a nearby Remington plant in Lonoke have been telling him "they're running full-swing up there, running 24-7," just to keep up with the surging demand.
That's good news for companies like Smith & Wesson, Sturm, Ruger & Co., Remington and Colt - all of which are based in the post-industrial Northeast, where manufacturing jobs have all but vanished. That manufacturing void has created a large labor pool that is anxious for work, Dionisio said. He added that many of the new jobs, however, are "temporary, contract-type hires, as opposed to full-time, permanent hires," because companies aren't sure how long the demand surge will last.
That said, the companies also need highly skilled workers.
Brian Rafn, who follows the gun industry for Morgan Dempsey Capital Management, said competition is fierce between gun makers for top-flight engineers. He said that's because engineers are the ones who develop unique gun design flourishes that inspire buyers to add to their current collections.
"To get a guy to buy his 29th or 30th gun, you've got to come up with a whole new frame," Rafn told CNNMoney. "We're always looking at new products, and it's these guys who design them."
Such new features could include ergonomic frames, innovative safeties or firearm actions, side-mounted laser sights and other features that tend to make the weapon stand out or give it some sort of competitive edge. Rafn said engineers with computer-design skills can command salaries of $100,000 a year or more.
Backlog of orders, backlog of workers
Jacob Herman, the chief operating officer for Red Jacket Firearms in Baton Rouge, La., agreed that it was difficult to find qualified workers, and that for his business, that was his biggest challenge. His company currently has an 18-month backlog of orders.
Red Jacket is a family-owned company with 30 employees; the firm manufactures a version of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle but due to the surge and backlog, the company has had to stop taking new orders for a while.
"Finding skilled machinists and advanced skilled labor is one of the biggest problems that we face in getting products out the door," Herman said, adding that "the firearms industry is fighting for the same employees as the exploding oil business, both here and in the Gulf (of Mexico) and in the Dakotas" (the oil industry is another one in which Obama has no use).
"The demand is so high, that I've probably got 250 guns in here for repair at any given time," said gunsmith Mark Raines, of Masters of Gun and Rod, in Tallahassee, Fla. "You make a good living, [but] you don't get rich. Because any time you work with your hands, you're limited to how much you can turn out in a 24-hour period."