January 27, 2014: The State of the Union countdown

Posted by mmcmullan on 01/27/2014

Good morning,

The State of the Union address is tomorrow and, as manufacturing policy observers, we are totally psyched. What will President Obama have to say regarding job creation Tuesday evening?

See, our appetites have been whetted: This weekend, a New York Times opinion by Wall Street executive, market-watcher and sometimes presidential adviser Steve Rattner poured a bucket of cold water on “The myth of industrial rebound.”

“For all the hoopla,” he writes, “the United States has gained just 568,000 manufacturing positions since January 2010 — a small fraction of the nearly six million lost between 2000 and 2009. That’s a slower rate of recovery than for nonmanufacturing employment.”

Rattner points out, in convincing fashion, that the sector isn’t what it once was —that its jobs don’t pay as well as they once did, that the benefits of the country’s recent energy production boom to the manufacturing sector are overstated, and that it constitutes a smaller slice of the pie here in the U.S. than in any other advanced economy.

The opinion is a very informative read … that somehow leaves you waiting for the other shoe to drop. We shouldn’t get into wild speculation as to why – maybe there was something on the stove, or he got caught up in a television show – but the author doesn’t finish his thought. “And?” the reader asks. “Okay, the manufacturing sector is necessary, but is only treading water. What do we do? Come back, Steve Rattner! Come back with your logical conclusion!”

Steve Rattner doesn’t, so we’ll help him out instead: What the manufacturing sector needs is a national manufacturing strategy. And Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul just laid one out in an opinion for Real Clear Politics on Sunday (as well as in newspapers around the country).

Yup, we’re spreading the word. In fact, we’ve spent the last week looking at the different legs of the national-manufacturing-strategy stool (it’s the rare five-legged stool) and we’re going to finish it up today. The issues are:

And, because every crackerjack box of policy proposals worth its salt should come with a decoder ring buried inside, we’ve put together a handy, dandy State of the Union translator for tomorrow’s speech. You're gonna hear a lot of loaded language, after all. So when President Obama talks about the middle class tomorrow, consider that:

For millions of Americans, manufacturing jobs provide an entry to the middle class. That’s because such jobs pay 38 percent more on average than other private sector jobs. Manufacturing also offers “spillover benefits” for the rest of the economy — in fact, it produces the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.

We’ll be watching the address with live observation and analysis on Twitter. Follow us, and be sure to keep an eye on Scott Paul’s handle too.

And lastly:

Have a good Monday, everyone. Enjoy the speech!


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