No More Excuses About the Economy. It's Time for Action.

Posted by elizabethbb on 06/12/2014

The New York Times paints a pretty bleak picture of the painfully slow economic recovery today, noting that while the nation’s “total annual output has moved substantially above the prerecession peak… economic growth has averaged only about 2 percent a year, well below its historical average.” Reporter Binyamin Appelbaum continues:

Household incomes continue to stagnate, and millions of Americans still can’t find jobs. And a growing number of experts see evidence that the economy will never rebound completely.

Appelbaum interviewed a number of experts for the piece, and they offered up a variety of reasons for the stubbornly sluggish economy.  Government spending cuts. Economic issues in Europe. Less innovation. A declining birth rate. Even the cold winter shared some of the blame.

But what’s missing from the conversation is any talk about our lopsided trade deficit, and how our inability to do anything about it is preventing the job market from creating solid middle class manufacturing jobs — the kind that will ultimately drive the economy.

Every single dollar’s worth of trade deficit is a drag on economic growth, and there are a lot of dollars in the deficit. The monthly U.S. international goods and services trade deficit rose to $47.2 billion in April, up from $44.2 billion in March.

Meanwhile, the economy actually has gained back the number of jobs it lost during the 2007-2009 recession. The problem? Most of them are low paying service industry jobs, not the manufacturing jobs the economy so desperately needs to thrive.

President Obama set a goal of creating 1 million manufacturing jobs by the end of his second term.  According to our #AAMeter, the U.S. has only gained 134,000 thus far. In May, just 10,000 manufacturing jobs were created, far below the pace needed to make the president's goal a reality.

The reasons for this are clear, as Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul explained recently:

A look at our trade picture’s weak exports and surging imports gives us one clue as to why manufacturing is lagging. The administration and Congress should help level the playing field for our manufacturers and workers by stopping currency manipulation, enforcing our trade laws, and making smart investments in infrastructure.

If President Obama wants to meet his goal — and if we ever want to give our economy the kickstart it needs to truly grow — we have to stop blaming the weather and get to work. It is time to implement a Comprehensive National Manufacturing Strategy that will support middle class manufacturing jobs, lower our trade deficit, and finally get our economy going again.

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