There's a brighter spot in manufacturing, where some companies are looking for workers, CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports.
On a quick tour of her family's factory, Linda Fillingham proudly shows off employees making the metal parts that go into some of America's biggest machines.
What's holding her machine shop back isn't a shortage of work. Instead, it's a shortage of workers, whom she's willing to pay $13 to $18 an hour.
"Thirty to 40 we could use right now," Fillingham said.
And she's not alone. The government says there are 227,000 open manufacturing jobs, more than double the number a year ago. One hundred eighty-three thousand have been created since December, the strongest seven-month streak in a decade.
Fillingham said it's hard to fill these jobs because they require people who are good at math, good with their hands and willing to work on a factory floor.
She's had to resort to paying people to learn on the job, like 25-year-old Matthew McDannel. The average manufacturing worker is more than twice his age.
"Maybe the work's too hard," said McDannel. "Maybe it's too hot. Maybe people just think about it and they're just, like, 'Oh, I don't want to do that.'"
By the year 2012 it's estimated this country will be three million skilled workers short, and it's not just in manufacturing sector. A recent survey found 22 percent of American businesses say they are ready to hire if they can find the right people.
"They're dipping their toes in the water, seeing if it's the right time to hire, but you also have potential employees doing the same thing and testing that employer to see if it's the right place for them," careerbuilder.com's Jason Ferrara said.
Fillingham hopes to convince a new generation that manufacturing jobs aren't a part of the past but instead the foundation of the future.
"You need to come up to bat and play the game if you want to be in it," said Fillingham. "It's there if you want to do it."