The bottom line is that it’s time for a more sophisticated and less black and white approach to trade, globalization and manufacturing. Only time will tell if Washington can get there.
Data is the Key to the Factory of the Future
Maintaining a strong industrial sector is critical to ensuring our future competitiveness, and making better use of data and analytics is a key to building a healthy manufacturing industry. “smart manufacturing,” as this approach is often called, could create $371 billion in net global value over the next four years.
How Immigration Policy Has Walled Off Silicon Valley
Restrictive immigration policies are holding Silicon Valley back and encouraging companies who need access to high skill labor to locate elsewhere. In an era where top talent, especially in STEM fields, is a valuable national resource, the United States should be actively working to recruit high-skilled labor, following the example of countries such as Chile and Canada, instead of closing the door to skilled immigration.
Improving Manufacturing Education and Innovation
Science-based discoveries aren’t sufficient anymore to promote American competitiveness. The United States must also be able to make things here. And that requires engineering-based innovation and education, which will assist American firms in developing the next generation of technologies and industries. And two key, complementary approaches to addressing that challenge are creating American Manufacturing Universities and establishing the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.
Reshoring Optimism, But Not Much Else
While many news sources have reported that manufacturing jobs are returning to the United States, manufacturing employment and firm number data show that reshoring is a myth. To attract jobs back, the United States will need to concentrate on boosting R&D, improviWhile many news sources have reported that manufacturing jobs are returning to the United States, manufacturing employment and firm number data show that reshoring is a myth. To attract jobs back, the United States will need to concentrate on boosting R&D, improving productivity, and implementing corporate tax reforms.
How America’s Manufacturing Job Loss Outpaces Other Leading Industrialized Countries
The U.S. manufacturing sector is losing jobs at a faster rate than any other advanced industrial nation besides the United Kingdom. From 2000 to 2009, the U.S. lost over 5 million manufacturing jobs. Commentators like Marc Levinson at the Congressional Research Service underestimate the speed and significance of the decline. However, U.S. job losses since 2000 have been much more rapid than other countries and cannot be explained by growth in worker productivity. These statistics show that the U.S. is facing a serious challenge to its international competitiveness in advanced manufacturing industries.
Manufacturing Universities: A Catalytic Step Toward Revitalizing American Manufacturing
A key component for reviving American manufacturing should be the creation of a national system of “manufacturing universities.” This effort would incentivize post-secondary university programs to focus more on advanced manufacturing, while producing graduates better equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for careers in emerging, innovation-based industries.