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National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) annual State of Manufacturing Address

Public Policy

NAM logoPresident and CEO Jay Timmons heralded the renewed vigor of the manufacturing sector in his annual State of Manufacturing address on February 25. “Today, I’m pleased to report to you that manufacturing in America is making a comeback,” Timmons said before an audience of 150 business, professional and community leaders at the Greater Houston Partnership in Houston, Texas, the nation’s number-one city for manufacturing. “That’s a tribute to the hardworking men and women who produce the goods and generate the ideas that power the U.S. economy as well as the global economy.”

Timmons’ address garnered significant media coverage in Washington and across the country. His RealClearPolitics op-ed, “Manufacturing: A Key Ingredient for U.S. Growth,” reached a national audience Timmons participated in an interview with the nationally syndicated “Morning in America with Bill Bennett” radio show.

Timmons outlined just how manufacturing contributes to growing the economy at home and increasing our competitiveness abroad. For the first time in history, manufacturing in the United States surpassed the $2 trillion mark in 2013. Our manufacturing sector alone is larger than the entire economies of all but seven countries, and manufacturing exports have reached an all-time high.

The future of manufacturing could be even brighter. According to the Manufacturers Alliance, manufacturing employment can grow by more than 300,000 jobs every year, and the economy can grow by an additional $1.5 trillion if manufacturing’s share of the U.S. economy rose from 12 percent to 15 percent—where it was at the beginning of the last decade. Manufacturers, Timmons said, must therefore confront the question, “How do we ensure that manufacturing in the United States is robust, dynamic and ready to meet the needs of our economy and our workers?”

Timmons’ answer called for a focus on products, people and policy. Manufacturers in the United States are making more products today and making them better than ever before. But they need people—specifically, a qualified workforce—to fill manufacturing jobs from the shop floor to the C-suite. Although opportunities abound, 82 percent of manufacturers report unfilled jobs due to the skills gap. The NAM is taking the lead to address the skills shortage. The NAM Task Force on Competitiveness & the Workforce met earlier in February to discuss ways to develop the next generation of manufacturers. The Manufacturing Institute, one of the NAM’s independent affiliate organizations, runs a skills certification program that enables U.S. workers to receive a portable credential demonstrating the skills they possess. Manufacturers are also working to increase STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and bring women and service members into the fold. Another critical factor in the “people equation” is immigration reform. The NAM has been a strong, consistent voice for comprehensive immigration reform in Washington. Click here to read about our work in 2013 and here for a personal immigration story from one manufacturer who is both contributing to and benefiting from the American dream.

Timmons then moved on to the policy component. The scope of policies that impact manufacturing — and the people who work in manufacturing—is incredibly broad and incredibly impactful. While there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of American manufacturing, government overreach poses the biggest threat. As the President and his team take more aggressive executive action, and as Congress has become more gridlocked, more of these regulatory battles are playing out in the courts. That’s why the NAM is making a strong commitment to litigating on behalf of manufacturers through our Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action. We’re involved in a number of cases, including a Supreme Court case against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas regulations, and we won a major victory against the National Labor Relations Board’s overreach into the workplace. The NAM also continues to push back against federal overreach into the workplace; advance an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy; advocate comprehensive tax reform; provide real solutions that bring down health care costs, giving manufacturers and other employers a greater ability to plan for the future; secure a trade agenda that allows our products to reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside U.S. borders; and more.

The manufacturing sector in the United States holds the key to economic growth and the competitiveness of the United States on the global stage. Click here to read the NAM’s Growth Agenda, the foundation of NAM’s work on behalf of the men and women who make things in the United States.

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