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Despite signs of gradual improvements in this industry, manufacturing jobs continue to decline as factories relocate to foreign countries with lower labor and material costs. As a result, labor unions have lost some of their strength to negotiate for better contracts and wages for manufacturing workers. Automation has also contributed to the continuing decrease in factory jobs. In continued efforts to cut labor costs and increase efficiency and productivity, manufacturers are replacing much of their labor force with robotics-based machinery. To remain competitive in global markets, many companies are striving to become even more automated, which will in turn eliminate even more jobs. While many assembly line jobs will disappear, the demand for engineers, who program, install, and maintain the automated machinery, should be strong.