Patrick Kennedy is the owner of Superior Woodcraft, a 2011 “Indie Award” finalist and a locally owned custom cabinet maker serving Doylestown, Pa. since 1967.
The current national focus is the Olympic medal race in which China and the US continue to battle it out for the gold. It’s certainly exciting to see the best athletes from around the globe compete for the top honors of earning the most medals. While all of this is garnering widespread press coverage, the Olympics will soon come to an end and we will head into Labor Day – a day to celebrate the economic and social contributions of American workers. This makes me reflect upon the global race for jobs and the state of U.S. manufacturing. While the Olympic Games are an entertaining diversion, we cannot deflect from something more serious – job creation. Creating more jobs will have a greater positive impact for many people and communities. It seems fitting that China and the US are battling in the Olympic medal race at the same time that we are also battling each other in the jobs race. Let’s take a quick look at America’s standing in the manufacturing jobs race.
Ranking of Leading Manufacturing Countries
1. United States
Contrary to what many believe, the U.S. is the leading country in manufacturing and has been since the days prior to WWII. China is close behind the US and the gap is quickly closing. While Japan ranks number three, when viewed as manufacturing output per capita, they are the number one most efficient and productive manufacturing country in the world. We should be looking at how Japan achieved this success.
Importance of Manufacturing Jobs
The manufacturing jobs race is important because the creation of one manufacturing job can create eight ancillary jobs. Therefore, if we created 300,000 new manufacturing jobs, we would create an additional 2.4 million jobs. Just think what that could do for the US economic and budgetary problems. Additionally, being a strong manufacturing country means greater independence.
For a long time, the discussion of off-shoring jobs has been a political hot topic. Now we are starting to hear new terms like re-shoring and near-shoring. These terms refer to U.S. companies bringing jobs back into the U.S. and our neighboring countries. Many companies are seeing their offshore business costs rising and are quickly realizing that this may not be the best solution.
There are many reasons for this change in direction. Some companies have encountered unforeseen logistic and manufacturing problems, while other contributing factors include higher energy prices, higher foreign labor rates, product safety issues, and concern over the protection of intellectual property. The decision to re-shore is dependent on the specifics of each company and the products they manufacture. The most likely items to be re-shored are large, heavy and expensive items. Re-shoring is great, but it is even better to retain and create new manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
Exercises Needed for the U.S. to Win the Global Race for Manufacturing Jobs
Winning the global race for manufacturing jobs is complicated, but achieving a few key goals will take us far:
- Reduce structural costs for businesses (taxes, regulatory compliance costs, employee benefits, tort costs, energy prices). American businesses are at a 17% competitive cost disadvantage compared to nine other industrialized countries.
- Federal and state governments need to create an environment that will allow businesses to succeed.
- Replace short term gimmicks (tax holidays & short term tax credits) with long term planning.
- Eliminate tax loopholes, simplify the tax code and reduce tax rates.
Every American Needs to Join in the Race for Jobs
Just as we support our Olympic athletes, Americans need to support the U.S. in the global race for jobs. The future strength of our country and our quality of life depend upon it. Your hard earned dollars are extremely valuable. How you spend your money has a direct impact on American jobs. Every dollar you spend can be a vote for American jobs.
Here is what you can do each day:
Buy American. Look to see how much of your new car is made with American parts and buy cars with the highest percentage of components made in America. Ask your homebuilder to take the American Made Home Building Challenge by using only American Made products. There are several websites that will help you locate products that are American Made. Some retailers are creating special collections of American Made products. Orvis is one such retailer, introducing, Orvis–Made in America. These are just some of the resources that can help you locate American Made products. Companies will respond with more information and products the more you ask to buy American.
Buy Local. Buying American will definitely help the US in the race for jobs, but buying local goes one step further. Buying local directly benefits and strengthens your own community. This has a direct impact on the quality of your daily life, the quality of your children’s schools and the wellbeing of your family and friends. Your purchases help provide local tax dollars that support your community. Your dollars spent at local independent stores are more likely to stay within your community, which creates a multiplier effect for your money. In turn, you create a wealthier, more enriched community. Click here to find a local independent business near you.
Vote. Your right to vote is a privilege that many in the world do not possess. We are a nation with the ability to decide who we want to lead and represent us. Vote for the candidates that you feel are best able to lead America to victory in the race for jobs.
Manufacturing in the U.S. is very much alive and we still hold the number one position. To continue to strengthen that position, Americans need to carry the national pride from the Olympics Games to the global race for manufacturing jobs. If each American takes a few simple steps, we can win this race. You might not be an Olympic athlete, but your contribution will help America win the race for jobs. Our success and our children’s futures are within our hands. Let the manufacturing games begin!