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USA: "Holding Us Back: Regulation of the U.S. Manufacturing Sector" report

USA: "Holding Us Back: Regulation of the U.S. Manufacturing Sector" report. 107-page report by National Association of Manufacturers.

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back to index backAMERItalk September,  2016


How to Bring Back Manufacturing Jobs

America has a long-running crisis in manufacturing employment. Quite simply, year after year, the number of people employed in making things declines — the figure is down by nearly 5 million since 1996. And in election years like this one, it is common to hear politicians talk about how they will bring manufacturing jobs back.

Across the board — on both sides of the aisle, in every part of the country — there is an overwhelming desire to have more manufacturing jobs. This is partly due to nostalgia and symbolism. But it’s also driven largely by economics: Generally speaking, the manufacturing jobs that have been lost (and that remain) offer better pay, benefits, and job security than the service jobs that have replaced them. What’s more, manufacturing has a big multiplier effect — when you build machines at a factory, it calls an array of suppliers and service providers into action. Thanks to the power of manufacturing’s economic impact, states and cities are often willing to offer significant financial incentives to companies that are willing to open plants.

Now, if they were being honest, politicians would note that the vast majority of the millions of manufacturing jobs lost can’t return. They left due to globalization and competition. And many were rendered obsolete by technology. The reality is that the value and volume of stuff factories produce tends to rise each year, even if employment falls, because software, machines, and computers are doing more of the work.

However, there are at least a few hundred thousand manufacturing posts that could be brought back” without turning back the clock on globalization and making factories less productive. All that would have to happen is for America’s companies to fill the hundreds of thousands of open positions.

I’ve written before about the strange state of affairs in the job market. Markets everywhere have become more efficient, thanks to technology and brilliant new platforms that grant buyers and sellers of goods and services the ability to meet one another online and agree on product and prices. And yet the labor market has become less efficient. As the most recent JOLTS report notes, there were some 5.6 million jobs open in the U.S. at the end of June, up from 2.4 million in June 2009. If human resources professionals could be 10 percent more effective at filling posts than they are, there would be an additional 560,000 people working today.

Source: strategy+business - GAI






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