Editorial: A Sympathetic Ear for U.S. Manufacturers
The Dept. of Commerce says U.S. manufacturers must confront substantial structural challenges, including the rapid pace of technological innovation and the new rules of the global economy, on their road to recovery. So what should the government do to help manufacturers compete?
This question was posed to manufacturers during a series of DOC-sponsored manufacturing roundtables comprising representatives from various manufacturing industries to identify the roots of the manufacturing sector's current challenges and the specific obstacles that government policy might pose to U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. Roundtable participants identified six areas that require immediate government attention include:
- Stronger government focus on manufacturing and its ability to operate competitively
- Stronger focus on fiscal and monetary policies that strengthen U.S. manufacturing
- A need for government to match industry in controlling manufacturing costs
- Government R&D investment that keeps the U.S technologically ahead of countries trying to emulate our advanced technology-driven economic model
- Address shortcomings in the U.S. educational system
- Ensure that international trade and monetary policies concerning global competition in manufacturing are free, open and fair
The DOC made recommendations to:
- Make recent tax cuts permanent
- Simplify tax rules
- Create an assistant secretary-level position at the DOC to focus on manufacturing and services and to serve as the main liaison to the U.S. manufacturing sector.
- Set up manufacturing council to facilitate communication between government and the manufacturing sector.
- Establish an interagency working group on manufacturing to coordinate implementation of government initiatives
- Enrich the pool of investment capital available to manufacturers
- Lower the cost and improve the availability of healthcare
Even if all of these recommendations were put into effect immediately, many of the jobs that were lost in manufacturing will never come back due to advances in technology and automation. Job growth is expected to come from new job creation from developing new products and services. Whether it's refilling "old" jobs or creating new ones, U.S. manufacturing should have unflinching support from the government instead of increasing regulations and controls.
You can read full DOC report at www.commerce.gov/DOC_MFG_Report_Complete.pdf.