Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), held a hearing focusing on the manufacturing sector and the need for a national strategy to revitalize manufacturing in the United States. The manufacturing sector is central to the overall health of the economy, and today’s hearing examined strategies and policies to bolster U.S. manufacturing growth.
“Good-paying manufacturing jobs are the key to a strong middle class. We need to make sure that we are doing everything possible to revitalize manufacturing in our country,” said Chairman Casey. “The United States has failed to put in place a national manufacturing strategy, and as a result, manufacturing companies and workers in the manufacturing sector haven’t received the support they need to compete effectively in the increasingly global economy.”
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) testified before the JEC that, “In order to have a strong middle class in America, we must continue to make and grow things in this country…for too long, we’ve seen a situation where our companies are competing against other countries. Because we have lost our focus, between 1979 and 2009, the U.S. lost more than 8 million manufacturing jobs.”
Senator Casey noted the need for more policies to strengthen the manufacturing sector. The Chairman emphasized the need for the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, which holds countries accountable for manipulating their currencies to gain unfair trading advantages and levels the international playing field.
Casey also advocated for stronger trade agreements and better enforcement of existing agreements to create a level playing field, opening markets for American products, as well as the extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to ensure that workers who lose their jobs and financial security as a result of globalization have an opportunity to transition to new jobs and emerging sectors of the economy.
During the hearing, Mr. Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and Senator Casey stressed the need for relief for American workers and firms by dealing with international currency manipulation, especially with regards to China.
Dr. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics, highlighted domestic policies, such as investment in technical schools and community colleges and STEM education, and pointed out that an “effective way to support manufacturers would be to lower their business costs, including labor, capital, and transportation and telecommunication. Manufacturers appear especially nervous about their ability to fill job openings. This skill shortage threatens to become a key constraint on growth for many manufacturing businesses. Technical schools and community colleges provide significant value, particularly in hard-pressed communities whose residents lack the financial resources to attend private four-year colleges or even state-funded universities. These schools can also alleviate a growing problem for many manufacturers. Large multinational manufacturers seem increasingly willing to partner with these schools: The firms help pay teachers’ salaries and build offices or other facilities, in exchange for a say over the schools’ curriculum. Policymakers should look to aid these efforts with additional funding to schools that attract manufacturing partners.”
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