A new poll confirms that Americans strongly support manufacturing...and they want more action by Washington.
A new poll conducted for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) confirms the findings of a 2012 Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) poll which found that manufacturing matters to voters. In fact, both polls show that manufacturing matters a LOT to Americans.
Some key points from the NAM poll:
- 90 percent of respondents think America’s manufacturing base is “important” or “very important” to the nation’s standard of living and economic prosperity, and 80 percent believe a strong manufacturing base should be a national priority.
- 84 percent “strongly agree” or “agree” that the United States needs a more strategic approach to developing its manufacturing base.
- 77 percent “agree” or “strongly agree” that tax cuts for businesses create jobs and 74 percent “agree” or “strongly agree” that tax incentives for manufacturing in the U.S. enhance competitiveness.
- 64 percent think the U.S. can compete globally, but only 16 percent feel the sector is likely to improve in the next year. In contrast, 23 percent feel manufacturing will weaken.
- Only 49 percent believe students today are qualified to pursue careers in manufacturing, and nearly the same number (47 percent) feel elementary, middle, and high schools have some responsibility for the creation of America’s next generation of skilled workers.
Many of these findings correspond almost exactly to AAM's poll, which found:
- 83 percent believe it is "most important" or "very important" for Washington to focus on "strengthening manufacturing in this country," and 80 percent say that doing more to "support American manufacturing" is "one of the most effective" or "very effective" ways to "create jobs and improve the economy."
- 89 percent "strongly favor" or "favor" a national manufacturing strategy to make sure that economic, tax, education, and trade policies in this country work together to help support manufacturing.
- 88 percent "strongly favor" or "somewhat favor" tax incentives to all companies that invest in new equipment and plants for manufacturing, with 85 percent favoring a tax break for every job that companies bring from overseas to the U.S.
- Only 38 percent of voters feel the U.S. has the strongest economy in the world, though 88 percent believe that it's possible for the U.S. to have the strongest economy.
- 89 percent "strongly favor" or "somewhat favor" increased "state and federal investment in retraining and education programs to ensure workers gain the tools they need to compete in the modern, high-tech factories of today and
With both polls showing strong support for manufacturing, it's surprising to see a difference in the view of manufacturing jobs.
Are Americans interested in a career in manufacturing? It depends on whom you talk to:
- The NAM poll found that only 35 percent of parents would encourage their child to pursue a career in manufacturing. However, 64 percent believe "manufacturing jobs provide good incomes relative to other industries."
- Conversely, the AAM poll found that 66 percent of those surveyed would encourage their children to pursue a job in manufacturing. Those who didn't encourage manufacturing jobs had some valid concerns, with 24 percent worrying that manufacturing jobs are going overseas, and 50 percent favoring jobs that require 4-year college degrees. However, when it's pointed out that manufacturing jobs pay 20% more than other private sector jobs and now utilize high-tech facilities, 44 percent of those who had initially discouraged a manufacturing career would change their mind and would instead encourage their children to seek a challenging industrial career.
It's clear, though, that Americans share a widespread concern about outsourcing. They want Washington to stand up for domestic manufacturers when other countries cheat.
- Chart 10 of the NAM poll finds that 80 percent of the public "strongly agree" or "agree" that U.S. manufacturing jobs are the first to be outsourced or moved to other countries. However, the vast majority of those polled says that the U.S. has the skilled workforce (72 percent), the necessary productivity (69 percent), and the work ethic (61 percent) needed to compete.
- AAM's poll finds that 91 percent "strongly favor" or "somewhat favor" enforcing international trade agreements to ensure a level playing field for U.S. workers and manufacturers.
Respondents also shared other concerns about unbalanced trade:
- Those surveyed by NAM see the need for a new approach to trade, and only 53 percent are optimistic that international trade creates U.S. jobs. Significantly, 67 percent believe the U.S. should "limit manufacturing good imports through higher tariff or quotas."
- 80 percent of AAM's respondents "strongly favor" or "somewhat favor" imposing tariffs on products from China until they stop their unfair trade practices, including manipulating their currency.
Overall, the NAM poll reveals that candidates and elected officials are well-advised to focus on manufacturing because it matters (overwhelmingly) to voters. In fact, one of the stark conclusions of the NAM finding is that nearly two-thirds of those polled "seem more than willing to take on a protectionist position regarding international trade as a means to level the playing field as necessary."
Call it "protectionist" or call it standing up to the protectionism of China and other trading partners. Either way, it's clear what's on the minds of Americans: It's time to make a stand for American manufacturing.
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