Big New Senate Push For Manufacturing Jobs

Dave Johnson

Manufacturing jobs (and, of course, the manufacturers) are so important to any economy. That’s why countries like China go to such efforts to get them. But for some time our country has been neglecting this sector in favor of the financial sector.

This week Senate Democrats introduced a package of 40 bills in an effort to turn this around.

The ‘Manufacturing Jobs for America’ Initiative

Senate Democrats announced Tuesday a major “Manufacturing Jobs for America initiative.” A few local news outlets actually even reported it.

The Manufacturing Jobs for America initiative is a package of 40 bills. (Go ahead, click through, it won’t bite, it’s a summary and it even has pictures.) The bills range from the “Adult Education and Economic Growth Act” to “increase investment in adult education coupled with better coordination and integration of adult education with occupational skills training and postsecondary education” to the “Green Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act of 2013″ that will “establish a Green Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Program to, among other things, promote policies to reduce production costs and encourage innovation, investment, and productivity among businesses in the United States that export green energy technologies or related services and implement a national strategy with respect to the exportation of green tech” to the “Rebuild American Manufacturing Act (S. 544)” which will “require the President to establish a national manufacturing strategy every two years and submit that strategy to Congress.” And 37 others.

In a Roll Call op-ed, “Washington Needs to Refocus on Manufacturing Jobs,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) writes,

The campaign features more than 40 measures — many that have bipartisan support — to spur job creation in manufacturing and lay the foundation for stronger economic growth far into the future. These senators will work together to build bipartisan support for these bills, to get them hearings and ultimately to earn votes on the floor.

Manufacturing jobs are high-quality jobs — they pay more on average and have better benefits than jobs in other industries — and they lead to gains throughout the economy. Every new manufacturing job we create adds another 1.6 local service jobs, and each dollar in manufacturing sales adds another $1.34 to the local economy.

[. . .] it’s critical that we fight for a more level global playing field. Manufacturing supports 60 percent of all U.S. exports — we can’t tolerate unfair trade practices that harm American workers and families, from currency manipulation to stealing our inventions to unfair dumping in American markets of subsidized foreign products.

… we can do more to ensure a coordinated government-wide effort in support of manufacturing by insisting on a national manufacturing strategy. Whether in infrastructure, in energy or in education, we should gear our policies toward prioritizing the creation of manufacturing jobs. The impact on our economy will mean good jobs in the short term and economic security and growth in the long term.

Numbers

Workers in manufacturing jobs earn 22 percent more in annual pay and benefits than the average worker in other industries, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Every new manufacturing job created adds another 1.6 jobs to the local service economy, and for every dollar in manufacturing sales, another $1.34 is added to the economy. Investments in manufacturing have a stronger impact than investments in any other economic sector.

These give an idea of why this is so important to the economy and to creating jobs that pay well. Repeat: Investments in manufacturing have a stronger impact than investments in any other economic sector.

Support

This plan lines up with polling that finds a solid — sometimes overwhelming — majority of Americans say that creating manufacturing jobs and strengthening manufacturing in the U.S. are top economic priorities.

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard stated his support for this initiative. This is an excerpt:

“Americans are demanding that their leaders put jobs first and invest in our future to help the economy grow. The Senate leadership has led us through the Republican-created financial crisis that has dominated Washington, Wall Street and especially Main Street far too long. It is now time to aggressively bolster our economy.

“We need our global and home economy to be based on making things and building real wealth shared by all. Creating manufacturing jobs is the best way for our economy to help lift up the 11 million Americans still looking for work. Manufacturing will secure America’s future as an innovator and supplier to the world, returning our country to its leadership position in the global economy.

(Note: Leo Gerard will be honored at next week’s Celebrating America’s Future 2013 Awards Gala, November 6 in Washington DC. Please click through for tickets.)

Coons said, “Washington needs to refocus on manufacturing jobs, which pay better and contribute more to our economy than new jobs in other sectors. This campaign is designed to help manufacturing-jobs legislation that can make a real difference in our communities earn the bipartisan support needed to become law. There are too many Americans still looking for work for Congress to continue to waste time lurching from crisis to crisis. Manufacturing can power our economic recovery, but Congress needs to do its part to see that potential realized.”

“In order to have a strong economy and strong middle class in our country, we must continue to make things and grow things,” U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said. “It’s absolutely critical that Congress focus on a bipartisan manufacturing strategy that will help our businesses develop advanced technologies and create new high-tech manufacturing jobs. The Manufacturing Jobs for America initiative will promote American innovation, job training opportunities, and the right tax policies to help our businesses and workers be successful in the global economy.” Senator Stabenow is chair of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus.

“We must continue to revitalize our manufacturing base to create good-paying, high-quality jobs, and our bipartisan bills in this package do just that,” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said. “My legislation cracks down on China’s currency manipulation and creates a level-playing field for American workers and manufacturers. If our workers have the proper tools and resources, they can out-innovate the rest of the world. The time to revitalize American manufacturing is now, and I am proud to work with this committed group to make it happen.”

In addition to Senators Coons, Stabenow, and Brown, senators contributing policy to the Manufacturing Jobs for America campaign include Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

In addition to the senators who introduced this bill House Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer released this statement of support:

“Congress has a responsibility to take action to help America’s private sector create jobs and compete in a changing global marketplace, and I am glad Democratic Senators, led by Senator Chris Coons, have launched a manufacturing jobs initiative that will complement House Democrats’ Make It In America plan. Now that manufacturing competitiveness legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans in both chambers have an opportunity to work together to move bills forward and pass them into law. Doing so in a swift and deliberate manner will send a strong message to American businesses and working families that Congress is serious about investing in the growth of jobs that bring opportunities and expand the middle class. I thank Senator Coons for his leadership on this issue in the Senate, and I encourage the Senate to act swiftly on legislation that will help more of our businesses and families make it in America.”

Companies and organizations that have formally issues statements in support of the Manufacturing Jobs for America initiative include:

The National Association of Manufacturers; AFL-CIO; Alliance for American Manufacturing; American Automotive Policy Council; American Small Manufacturers Coalition; Association for Manufacturing Technology; Bloom Energy; BlueGreen Alliance; Dow; DuPont; Ford Motor Company; General Electric; the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation; National Association of Development Organizations; National Skills Coalition; One Voice – National Tooling & Machining Association, and Precision Metalforming Association; Progressive Policy Institute; STEM Education Coalition; Third Way; the United Autoworkers; and the United Steelworkers.

Derek Pugh contributed research for this post.

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