Five ways the government shutdown is hurting U.S. manufacturers

Posted by mmcmullan on 10/08/2013

"None of 'em in Washington have much of a clue about what happens in the Main Streets across the U.S. They live in La-La Land."

-Tommy Hodges, Titan Transfer Inc., Mobile, Alabama.

Is the government shutdown harming U.S. manufacturers?

We've all heard the stories related to the government shutdown: national parks closed, the monthly jobs report stalled, federal employees furloughed. But are there other concerns related to the closure of federal agencies?

Washington’s fixation on another debt debate means there is still no focus on crafting a jobs plan for America’s workers.  As Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul recently wrote in an op-ed for IndustryWeek, “Despite the popular desire to bring manufacturing jobs home, many of our economic policies aren’t aligned to encourage their return.”

The policies aren't going to get aligned as long as Washington’s warring political factions keep focusing elsewhere. Put another way: Instead of helping America's manufacturers, Congress has manufactured a crisis. So, what kind of presents has Washington’s inaction presented to American industry? There’s plenty to choose from! Let’s dig into the grab-bag:


1. Companies, waiting for regulatory approval, are having trouble exporting their goods.

And everything from steel to microchips is affected, Reports the Wall Street Journal:

Applied Materials Inc., one of the largest makers of computer-chip manufacturing equipment, believes the lapse in routine export approval "could affect our ability to ship products to certain markets," said spokesman Kevin Winston. "Pending applications and future submissions are on hold."

Image by Flickr user Håkan Dahlström

2. About 97 percent of NASA’s 18,000 employees remain furloughed, notes Bloomberg News.

That means repercussions that aren’t even quantifiable yet, says the aerospace industry:

Several contractors with NASA will be furloughing employees because they have no access to NASA facilities. We don’t yet have a way to quantify that effect.

-Aerospace Industries Association spokesman Dan Stohr

Image by Flickr user THX0477

3. There simply aren’t enough employees available to attend major trade negotiations, writes The Hill:

U.S. trade officials delayed the talks because the U.S. Trade Representative’s office has been stretched thin with staff furloughs due to the federal closures.

Image by Flickr user Victoria1588

4. With imports and exports bogged down in a regulatory limbo, will border agencies be able to monitor surges of imports that may be harming American businesses and manufacturers?

Who knows? No one is manning the FDA. More from The Hill:

Routine inspections and other agency functions have ceased, including at the Food and Drug Administration, which is calling off routine food safety facilities inspections and stopping laboratory research.

Image by Flickr user Chronos Tachyon

5. Bonus gift! The shutdown and its resulting furloughs could harm America’s cyber security, observes Politico:

The government shutdown has meant furloughs for Defense Department, intelligence community and other employees who play an essential role in defending U.S. computer networks. Although some of them are coming back to their jobs this week, (a panel of cyber security experts) blasted the risks involved with the shutdown as well as the time and energy wasted on the political battles in the Capitol.

Image by Flickr user Chris Amelung

All images in this post were used following Creative Commons guidelines.

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