The time is ripe for a national manufacturing strategy

Posted by TGarland on 02/04/2014

Much of the economic conversation that surrounded President Obama's State of the Union address (SOTU) was rooted in a discussion of manufacturing. The president began his pre-SOTU push in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he announced another manufacturing hub like Youngstown, Ohio's 3-D manufacturing institute. He continued the conversation during the speech, announcing six additional manufacturing hubs, an across-the-board review of the government's workforce training programs, and a call for more infrastructure investment. The morning after the address he took his message on the road, with stops at a U.S. Steel plant in Pittsburgh and a GE factory in Wisconsin.

But it seems some believe the President's emphasis on manufacturing isn't worth it. A column in Bloomberg Businessweek argues that a focus on manufacturing is “flawed economics.”

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) would beg to differ. And it seems our friends Leo Hindery, Jr., Leo W. Gerard, and Michael Wessel have set the record straight in the Huffington Post.

The three write:

No reputable economist disputes the very positive economic and social multiplier effects of manufacturing jobs versus the service jobs available on average today, especially jobs in leisure & hospitality and health care and social assistance where most new service jobs have been created over the last twenty years.

They emphasize that in order for the U.S. to have a balanced, high-growth economy, lawmakers must work to establish policies to promote job growth in the manufacturing sector.

Right now, with the U.S. manufacturing sector employing less than 10 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force, the sector is not even half the size it needs to be for our nation to again have a balanced, high-growth economy. It's actually far more important that policy makers focus on our manufactured goods trade deficit, with its myriad adverse economic, social and defense implications, than on the more nuanced federal deficit.

To that end, AAM has laid out a national manufacturing strategy that would promote job growth and support American manufacturing.

The president's focus is right where it should be. In a new poll conducted for AAM, voters see manufacturing as the single most important sector in the American economy. Now, let's turn this focus on manufacturing from speechifying to policymaking.

Tell your representiaive or senator to support American manufacturing by getting tough on China's currency manipualtion. And tell Congress to Buy American and invest in American jobs.

AAM file photo from January 30, 2014 at McGavock High School in Nashville, TN.

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