NPR’s Morning Edition on US Manufacturing
Stephen Gray, CEO of Gray Construction, gives his thoughts on a recent NPR segment on US manufacturing.
5 Points from NPR’s Morning Edition on US Manufacturing
Jan 19, 2012 – NPR featured David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, on their Morning Edition. You can listen to the recording here.
I think Mr. Wessel raised several good points about the current employment situation as it relates to manufacturing. Here are some of my thoughts on the main points he raised.
- “The arrow is certainly pointing up [for manufacturing}” – I would certainly agree. We have seen several manufacturers, Caterpillar, Siemens and Austal to name a few, undertake major US projects in the last 12 – 18 months. These have certainly contributed to the “splash” of companies bringing work back to the US. Developments such as the BMW expansion in South Carolina that was mentioned will surely provide new momentum to these positive changes.
- There is no doubt that the hardships of the European economies are creating new vulnerabilities in the US economy. However, several European companies, VW, Siemens and Mercedes come to mind, are making bold strides into the US manufacturing market. Although the economic situation in Europe cannot be ignored, there are certainly bright spots that deserve our attention as well. Our next GrayWay publication will deal with this very issue. Check back in early February to find out even more on this topic.
- The American worker is a topic of great interest these days. Advances in technology and production methods have greatly increased the efficiency of our workforce. The capability to use the latest technology to manufacture high quality goods gives the US a competitive advantage in manufacturing. We must capitalize on this advantage and work to ensure that companies can find employees capable of utilizing this technology to its full potential and even improving upon it. Our December GrayWay dealt with how workforce development programs are making this possible.
- Speaking about the ability of manufacturing to help solve the unemployment situation, Mr. Wessel correctly points out that even if manufacturing staffs doubled that wouldn’t solve the unemployment problem. But can we ask another, perhaps greater question altogether? What can be done to systematically bring manufacturing to, say 20% of US employment? As an area of great competitive advantage that provides steady, well-paying jobs, the development of our manufacturing sector would grow our county and help to insulate our workforce against future economic hardships.
- As a final point, I would obviously agree that keeping manufacturing jobs in the US must be a vital part of our country’s economic strategy. Each new factory creates jobs, encourages new developments of supporting industries and provides a rich environment for R&D. The American manufacturer is without a doubt one of our greatest sources for innovation and advancement.