According to a report released today, manufacturers in the United States will continue to benefit from increased investments – many of which might have gone elsewhere in previous years. The report, released by Boston Consulting Group, attributes the enormous growth potential to our growing competitive advantages in energy costs and labor productivity. The authors predict that there could be up to 1.2 million new manufacturing jobs added by the end of the decade, with another 1.9 million to 3.5 million additional indirect workers in the services sectors.
While manufacturers are pleased with the positive outlook, the truth is that we are now at a crossroads: the right policy choices can propel us toward a manufacturing renaissance. But the wrong choices can send manufacturers into a precipitous decline.
Manufacturers from all across the country are concerned about our ability to continue to compete and succeed with more aggressive and strategic countries. According to recent surveys of Member companies, 55 percent of business owners would not start their business again today if they had the chance to do so and 64 percent believe the drama and brinksmanship surrounding the fiscal cliff debate in December led them to believe that Congress is simply not capable of adequately addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges.
This malaise is not surprising considering the political and policy reality in Washington. Our elected leaders took the nation to the brink of the fiscal cliff. While they averted an economic disaster, it was only temporary. This type of week-by-week, month-by-month budgeting is having major repercussions not only in manufacturing, but in businesses in all sectors.
If manufacturers are to live up to the potential laid out in this report, Washington must embrace the policies that make this country more competitive and give businesses the certainty they need to be successful.
Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.