Have you read Senior Editor Tim Heston's most recent blog post? If not, you should.
In the blog post, Heston discussed recent media coverage of Apple reported the multimedia gadget maker can't make products in the U.S. because the workforce isn't flexible enough to respond to fickle consumer demand. Toward the end, Heston stated: "I’d say it’s a moral imperative that we again build our U.S. manufacturing infrastructure so we can respond to companies like Apple, with skilled workers and automation."
I don't think the issue can be stated any more clearly. It's time for the U.S. to put the iPhone down, get off the couch, and make a better future for itself.
I could go into the list of reasons that manufacturing is important, but I'll let Jerry Jasinowski, the former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, address the points in this recent editorial. Simply put, manufacturing is a wealth creator that other segments of the economy simply can't match.
Hopefully, people are getting the message, especially knowing that manufacturing continues to lead this slow economic recovery. Job creation is also increasing, with small and medium-sized companies accounting for 89 percent of the 209,000 new workers in March, according to payroll processor Automatic Data Processing.
Where does it start? I'd argue that it already has with the new focus on vocational skill development in community colleges. Unfortunately, the new talent isn't being educated fast enough for many manufacturers, but help is on the way in some areas of the U.S.
How does it continue? There are numerous places to start: tax reform, regulatory relief, and supportive legislative action.
Yes, the U.S. economy is still a consumer-driven entity. Yes, manufacturing as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product will continue to shrink—just as agriculture has over the years—as fewer workers are needed to produce the same or more amount of goods. Those are facts that cause some pundits to frown on any special treatment given to manufacturers.
I'd say look at other facts. The unemployment rate is still higher than 8 percent. The average age of a manufacturing worker is late 50, and although they may be working longer to add to their retirement coffers, they soon will be walking out the door. Jobs are available and will be available for some time.
We have a moral imperative to support our neighbors who are looking to rebuild their lives after the tumultuous events of the past five years. We can do that by supporting manufacturing.