States In Recovery: Manufacturing

Pamela M. Prah from Stateline, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy, wrote an article on how manufacturing is making a comeback in terms of manufacturing jobs lost, especially those hit hardest by the recession. Manufacturing and construction were reduced the most after the recession, but there have been a million manufacturing jobs created in the U.S. since 2009.

To build on that momentum, President Barack Obama wants to initiate a network of “manufacturing innovation institutes” to help manufacturers capitalize on cutting-edge technologies.  The administration would eventually like to create 15 manufacturing institutes. Both Ohio and Pennsylvania are already realizing the gains of these endeavors.  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said, “we are seeing nothing less than the beginnings of a new Industrial Revolution.” The new Youngstown center boasts a 3-D printing lab that can create a three-dimensional model of an object using metal, plastic or ceramic powder. The head of Ohio’s Department of Development called it “the next generation of manufacturing methods.”

Other states are pursuing similar opportunities. Illinois teamed up with the University of Illinois and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications to create an advanced manufacturing hub. Large and small companies can come there to learn about “the world’s most sophisticated tools and software,” said Democratic Governor Pat Quinn.

Some critics, however, say the federal government is ill-equipped in choosing which technologies to invest in. Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Initiative, said “the risk is, especially if the government picks them, that they are picked for political reasons, rather than economic reasons.”

South Carolina claimed they don’t need assistance from D.C., touting themselves as the “new superstar of American manufacturing,” having manufacturers of cars, planes, tires, ATVs, and more.  Though what may attract these companies is South Carolina’s union-free policy, many of these companies are foreign.

“Nationwide, some 2 million Americans are employed in manufacturing by the U.S. subsidiaries of global companies, accounting for more than 17 percent of the U.S. manufacturing workforce, according to the Organization for International Investment, a trade group. The manufacturing sector is the top sector for global companies investing in the United States.”

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