One of the most important, if little publicized, intermediate economic indicators is business investment in new equipment and software. This type of investment drives productivity and competitiveness, not just in manufacturing firms, but in the economy as a whole. It is therefore troubling, to say the least, that the trends in U.S. investment in capital equipment are down, not up.
An Alternative to Mercantilism: Manufacturing Extension Services in Latin American and Caribbean Countries
A growing number of Latin American nations are turning to "innovation mercantilist" practices to grow their economic sectors, including manufacturing. Yet, an alternative approach, enhancing innovation among manufacturers, particularly small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), is actually much more effective in spurring sustainable growth. This report benchmarks SME manufacturing extension services in eight Latin American and Caribbean countries and highlights best practices in bolstering manufacturing productivity, innovation, and export potential. The report also provides a comprehensive impact analysis of manufacturing extension services in both developed and developing countries, finding that such programs have achieved significant impacts in bolstering competitiveness.
National Manufacturing Day Highlights Challenges and Opportunities
As important as it is to celebrate the contribution manufacturing makes to a vibrant U.S. economy, National Manufacturing Day should also recognize the significant trade barriers U.S. manufacturers continue to face in global markets—especially as a growing number of countries have resorted to embracing a particularly pernicious form of trade barrier known as localization barriers to trade.
Congress Needs to Fix the Helium Program Now
Because of its unique traits, helium is used in a variety of scientific and industrial processes including semiconductor production, optical fiber manufacturing, and magnetic resonance imaging. Unless Congress acts soon, the Federal Helium Program will begin shutting down on October 1. If this happens a valuable federal resource will lie unutilized and 42 percent of current domestic supply will disappear at a time when the helium market is already experiencing shortages.
Are Robots Taking Our Jobs, or Making Them?
With U.S. unemployment remaining stubbornly above 7 percent and job growth anemic, many have latched on to a compelling explanation: “the robots are taking our jobs.” In other words, a “neo-Luddite” narrative has taken hold. According to this line of thinking, high productivity driven by increasingly powerful IT-enabled machines is the cause of U.S. labor market problems, and accelerating technological change will only make those problems worse. There’s only one flaw in this narrative: it is completely wrong and not supported by data, scholarly evidence or logic. This report analyzes the “robots are killing our jobs” arguments, shows how they are constructed on faulty analysis, examines the extensive economic literature on the relationship between employment and productivity, and explains the logic of how higher productivity leads to more jobs. We show that more technology benefits not just the economy overall, but workers: more and better technology is essential to U.S. competitiveness and higher living standards. The claim that increased productivity eliminates jobs is misguided speculation.