An in-depth article in this week’s Wall Street Journal reports on how U.S. policymakers are coming up with new strategies to accelerate jobs and investment in the nation’s manufacturing infrastructure.
The article on Tuesday (June 7) noted the sector’s frequently quoted statistics that the U.S. shed 5.7 million manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010 — more than a third of the manufacturing workforce — as companies abandoned plants and workers in favor of low-cost foreign countries.
However, WSJ reporter Bob Tita wrote, manufacturing employment in recent years has grown slightly as the auto industry rebounded and domestic plants became more cost-competitive with those of other countries where manufacturing expenses have escalated because of higher wages.
Now researchers, politicians and business leaders are coming forward with strategies to accelerate job gains and investment in manufacturing. Their ideas range from pruning regulations that raise the cost and effort of running a manufacturing operation to imposing a value-added tax on imports to beefing up training programs so companies have an easier time finding skilled workers, the article says.
Reviving the manufacturing sector won’t be easy, but – these advocates argue – it’s crucial. Manufacturing is one of the best generators of wealth for an economy, requiring processes, materials and work skills that create employment and profits at each step in an assembly. Countries that don’t make anything eventually start to lose their edge in research and product development.
“Manufacturing and design drive each other,” Steven Schmid, an aerospace and mechanical engineering professor at the University of Notre Dame told the Wall Street Journal. “If you lose one, you’ll lose the other, too.”
To read the entire article, click here.