October 9, 2013: Shuffling along through the shutdown

Posted by mmcmullan on 10/09/2013

Good morning,

Happy Wednesday. We’re well into week two in Shutdown City, and Washington is lurching toward another debt ceiling debacle.

Whether we pull back in time remains to be seen, but economic damage from the partial government shutdown is becoming apparent in a myriad of ways. More importantly, it's hamstringing America’s diplomatic and trade efforts. Marilyn Geewax reports for NPR that the President Obama, who skipped out on diplomatic meetings in Indonesia and another round of them in Brunei today because of DC political gridlock, sees his absence from these gatherings as missed opportunities, and so do his Asian counterparts:

Many Asian leaders had hoped to end the (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting with an announcement about advances in trade deals, in particular the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with the United States. But those hopes fizzled, with some Asian officials saying they fear the TPP lost momentum because Obama was not there to push it.

Obama agreed, telling reporters, "I would characterize it as missed opportunities."

Not everyone agrees with the Obama administration that TPP is a worthwhile deal. Geewax cites Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, which has voiced concerns about TPP’s impact on labor and environmental standards. And, lest we forget: A majority of both of those gridlocked chambers of Congress think the administration should address currency manipulation in any TPP agreement.

Elsewhere around the web:

Are we looking at the next Fed chair? Janet Yellen is in line to be the first female chair of the Federal Reserve, report Martin Crutsinger and Jim Kuhnhenn for the Associated Press. Yellen emerged as the frontrunner thanks to her experience with current Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke:

A close ally of (outgoing Chairman Ben Bernanke), Yellen has been a key architect of the Fed's efforts under Bernanke to keep interest rates near record lows to support the economy, and she likely would continue steering Fed policy in the same direction as Bernanke.

In an opinion published in Politico, Linda P. Hudson president and CEO of BAE Systems Inc., and Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, describe the necessity of a strong manufacturing base in order to maintain a strong and agile military:

Since World War II, our military — and all Americans — have relied on a highly skilled, dedicated and engaged civilian defense labor force of engineers, designers, welders, electricians, machinists and pipe fitters. … As new technologies are developed to address the ever-changing threats from our enemy, this labor force acquires new skills to keep pace and meet the military’s needs.

We couldn’t agree more. Relatedly, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) recently released a report prepared by  Brigadier General (ret.) John Adams that found our military was dangerously dependent on foreign suppliers. Check it out here.

At the Huffington Post, LNS researcher Mike Roberts hits on something that AAM has been discussing for awhile: the need to get younger people interested in manufacturing careers. Roberts delivers a statistic that should give any sane American pause:

Accounting for the aging workforce issue, in ThomasNet's 2013 Industry Market Barometer report, it was concluded that 75 percent of manufacturing workers will need to come from Generation-Y by 2025 for the sector to continue growing at its current rate. That leaves little time to renovate the outdated perception and lack of information Millennials have about manufacturing.

Little time indeed. And while we’ve seen programs pop up in Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, and various other states, the misinformation to which Roberts refers is a very real concern. We’re hoping the powers that be across the country are listening and ramping up their STEM programs.

One last manufacturing fact with which you may rock out? Why of course:

Cassettes are still out there! Click here for AAM's first-cassette playlist (spoiler: this playlist is awesome).

Last week, AAM filled the gap left by an absent Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report by providing our own. We asked our supporters across the nation to send in the jobs report as they saw it from their communities, and the results painted a picture of the American economy that a data dump can’t.

No jobs report? No problem. Help us tell the jobs story that Washington won’t. Email your jobs report from your town to info [at] aamfg [dot] org, tweet it to us at @keeptimadeinUSA, or contact us via Facebook. And read the report right here.

Happy hump day, America!

-AAM

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