Betting on the Resilience of the American Manufacturer
Today, as we celebrate Manufacturing Day, nearly 2,000 manufacturers—from Portland, Oregon to Pryor Creek, Oklahoma to Sarasota, Florida—are opening their factory doors; not just to showcase the face of 21st century advanced manufacturing, but also to connect schools, communities, and youth with the latest manufacturing technologies, opportunities, and training programs to prepare the next generation of American workers for good, middle-class jobs.
On this Manufacturing Day, it is important that we continue to focus on what it takes to keep American manufacturing strong, and expand opportunities for the next generation.
The President has made manufacturing a priority since taking office and for the first time in decades, manufacturing is on an upswing. U.S. manufacturing has added 865,000 jobs since 2010, factories are opening at the fastest rate in over 20 years, and global investment into the U.S. manufacturing sector nearly doubled last year alone. In the face of global economic headwinds, we need to redouble our efforts to support manufacturing – and that’s exactly what the President is committed to do
This is the time to turn America’s increased competitiveness for manufacturing into a lasting advantage through smart, strategic investments that build on our strengths – that sharpen the skills of the world’s already most productive workforce, that rev the engines of American inventive creativity, that build durable infrastructure to connect entrepreneurs with markets, and to grow a national network of innovative R&D hubs to keep U.S. manufacturing in the lead on technology.
The President’s Budget does just that, increasing investments in job training and skills, infrastructure, research and development, and cutting-edge manufacturing. Unfortunately, the Republican budget takes a very different approach, locking in harmful budget cuts known as sequestration and jeopardizing these important investments.
As a result of sequestration, Republican spending plans would –
1. Arrest the growth of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation – Manufacturing is an economic engine with strong bipartisan support – 118 bipartisan cosponsors backed the creation of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation when it passed Congress last year. The legislation Congress passed would allow the Department of Commerce to launch new industry-led innovation hubs to build lasting advantage in cutting edge manufacturing technologies. But instead Republican spending plans cut, by $140 million, the funding needed at the Department of Commerce to launch new industry-led manufacturing institutes —the very hubs a bipartisan team in Congress authorized.
2. Weaken support for small manufacturers looking to grow – Small firms employ 42 percent of all U.S. manufacturing workers and power our domestic supply chains. Across the country, 30,000 small manufacturers benefit from the technology services and expertise of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a public-private industrial service aimed at helping small manufacturers grow. Investments in the MEP are smart investments – with each dollar of federal investment catalyzing $19 dollars in new sales and growth for small manufacturers. But rather than doubling down on a smart investment, sequestration-level funding will deny MEP the funds it needs to continue strengthening these services and to keep up with changing technologies, depriving small businesses of the technology acquisition and consultation services necessary to stay head in the 21st century.
3. Take American innovators out of the lab and leave them out of work – At the National Science Foundation, Republicans’ proposals would mean nearly 8,000 fewer researchers pursuing the next big discovery. That means taking the scientists and researchers whose discoveries have led to accessing the world’s information in the palms of our hands, injection molding, and the computer design software behind modern machining out of the lab and off the job of advancing American technology. Ignoring the President’s request for $146 billion in research and development means American people are denied lifesaving biomedical breakthroughs, cleaner energy, and faster telecommunications solutions that lie just beyond our grasp.
4. Undermine the repair of vital American infrastructure – U.S. manufacturers ship nearly $1.9 trillion of goods every year. Getting those goods to market requires smooth roads, deep ports, and fast rail, as well as, fast transit linking manufacturing workers to good jobs. But Republicans’ proposed cuts to critical investments in infrastructure – such as cutting competitive grants for innovative infrastructure projects by over one billion dollars – hurt our manufacturers. Cutting these TIGER grants, as Republicans in the House proposed, means weakening our manufacturers’ ability to ship at home and export all over the world.
5. Cut training for jobs at a time when open jobs need to be filled - Today, there are nearly six million jobs open in the American economy, the largest number of open jobs since December 2000. And American manufacturing is no exception, with over 300,000 open jobs and the existing workforce working longer hours than ever before. But under sequester levels of spending nearly 2 million fewer people would receive job training and employment services, relative to the President’s Budget, including help finding jobs and skills training. We cannot afford to leave these jobs on the table.
The Republican budget for 2016 irresponsibly adheres to sequestration funding levels that shortchange the very investments most essential to cultivating long-term economic growth, spurring new, advanced technologies, and arming our next generation of manufacturing workers with adequate training and education. In contrast, the President’s Budget would reverse these cuts going forward, investing in the values that Manufacturing Day celebrates and what America has always been about: the grit and determination of the American workforce.
If we stay focused on winning this race, and make smart, responsible investments, we can help ensure the next revolution in manufacturing is an American revolution.