Bipartisan, Bicameral Trade Promotion Authority Legislation Introduced

With today’s introduction of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) have demonstrated strong bipartisan, bicameral leadership on an issue that is critical to American leadership globally and the ability of manufacturers and their workers in the United States to compete more successfully for the approximately $12 trillion in manufactured goods traded internationally.

TPA is a longstanding and proven procedural partnership between Congress and the Executive Branch that facilitates negotiation and approval of trade agreements that open markets for manufacturers in the United States. It enables Congress to set trade negotiating objectives and increases Congress’s power to shape and influence deals. (continue reading…)

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Philly Fed: Modest Manufacturing Growth in April, but With Lingering Challenges

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that manufacturing activity picked up a bit in April after softening over the past three months. The composite index of general business activity rose from 5.0 in March to 7.5 in April. This suggests modest growth overall, even as it continues to show an expansion that was slower than at the end of last year. The headline index was 24.3 in December, for instance. The Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey continues to reflect mostly positive attitudes moving forward, despite headwinds that will continue to challenge growth. One of those headwinds has been a stronger U.S. dollar. (continue reading…)

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Housing Starts Remained Weak in March

The Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that residential construction activity remained weak for the second straight month. New housing starts increased 2.0 percent, up from an annualized 908,000 in February to 926,000 in March. Each of those figures, however, remain below the 1,072,000 rate observed in January. They reflect reduced activity in every region of the country, most notably in the Midwest, Northeast and West. Poor weather conditions have been a factor in some regions, and along those lines, starts in the Midwest and Northeast rebounded somewhat as they recovered from heavy snowstorms the month before. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturing Production Edged Marginally Higher in March

Manufacturing production increased 0.1 percent in March, according to the Federal Reserve Board. This followed three months of weaker data, including declines in both January and February. There have been some significant headwinds hitting the manufacturing sector over the past few months, including a strong U.S. dollar, weakened economic markets abroad, lower crude oil prices, the West Coast ports slowdown and weather. It is clear that these challenges have slowed activity in the sector since November. The year-over-year pace of manufacturing production in March was 2.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent in November. In addition, manufacturing capacity utilization was unchanged at 77.1 percent, down from 78.1 percent in November. (continue reading…)

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NY Fed: Manufacturing Orders Contracted in April

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey contracted in April, ending three straight months of expansion in the district. The composite index of general business conditions from the New York Federal Reserve Bank declined from 6.9 in March to -1.2 in April. The decline stemmed from reduced new orders (down from -2.4 to -6.0), which decreased at a faster pace for the month. Nearly one-third of those taking the survey said that their new orders were lower in April, up from 27.5 percent in March. The index for the average employee workweek also narrowed, down from 5.2 to -4.3, but with 78.8 percent of respondents suggesting that the workweek was unchanged.  (continue reading…)

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FACT CHECK: EPA’s Legal Footing

“I would not recommend, and I am confident that the Administrator would not sign, a final rule that the EPA did not believe was on firm legal footing and worthy of being upheld by the federal courts. In light of that, the effect of the draft bill would be a wholly unnecessary postponement of reductions of harmful air pollution,” said Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) Acting Air Chief Janet McCabe.

The statement above was given in a congressional hearing, while under oath to members of Congress who were debating draft legislation that would restore some regulatory certainty for businesses and state governments by delaying implementation of EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation for the existing power sector until after the inevitable legal challenges are resolved. (continue reading…)

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Retail Sales Rebounded Somewhat in March

The Census Bureau said that retail sales rebounded in March after declining in each of the previous 3 months. Retail spending rose 0.9 percent in March, with strong growth in motor vehicle and parts sales (up 2.7 percent) helping to lift the overall figure. Excluding motor vehicle and parts, retail sales were up 0.4 percent, still a modest growth rate. (continue reading…)

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NFIB: Small Business Optimism Dipped in March

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said that small business owners were less confident in March. The Small Business Optimism Index dropped from 98.0 in February to 95.2 in March, its lowest level in 9 months. As such, it continues a trend of weaker survey responses so far in 2015, with the headline index down from 100.4 in December, its highest point since October 2006. To be fair, small businesses remain more upbeat today than one year ago (93.4 in March 2014), but growth has clearly slowed in the past three months due to economic headwinds seen in other reports, as well. (continue reading…)

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Dear India: Actions Speak Louder than Words

Every year, the city of Hannover, Germany, hosts the world’s largest industrial trade fair—the Hannover Messe—which increasingly highlights the most important advancements in manufacturing technologies. Next year, the United States will be the official partner country, and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is very excited that manufacturers in the United States will have a special showcase for their innovations and best-in-class manufacturing solutions. (continue reading…)

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You have been AMBUSHED – by the NLRB

Despite our best efforts and after a four year battle, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)’s “Ambush Election” rule will go into effect today, Tuesday, April 14th.

This rule shortens the time frame before a union election robbing employees of the ability to gather the facts they need to make an informed decision and infringes in employee privacy requiring them to supply home addresses, telephone numbers, emails, work locations, shifts and job classifications. (continue reading…)

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