Manufacturers Say Get the Turnaround Started at the Labor Department: Confirm President-Elect Trump’s Nominee

By | Regulations, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Manufacturers can’t wait for Inauguration Day. Like the first hours of New Year’s Day and baseball’s Opening Day, anything feels possible. And when you’ve been battling eight years of volatility and policy uncertainty in the rules governing the workplace, a new way forward is exactly what we need—to help American workers and families with more jobs and higher pay.

A recent National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) study calculated the cost of recent labor regulations to the economy to be $85 billion, more than 400 million hours of paperwork and up to 155,000 jobs lost over the next 10 years. That’s more jobs lost than the entire populations of Green Bay and La Crosse, Wis., combined.

The right type of change starts with a confirmation vote—to get the U.S. Labor Department working smarter and functioning at the level Americans expect and deserve. The Senate should move swiftly to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder. The president-elect was wise to choose the leader who turned around Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., saving not only brick-and-mortar businesses but also jobs that jumpstart better lives. There’s no reason to delay another turnaround—at the Labor Department—that needs to start on day one.

How bad has it been? Here are some of the worst-offending policies:

  • President Obama’s Labor Department has hindered the ability of employers, particularly smaller-sized firms, to seek advice on how to comply with labor laws, which can harm manufacturing workers, as much as their employers.
  • The administration tried to more than double the minimum salary threshold for employees exempted from overtime pay and add a costly automatic increase provision. Small and rural businesses were hit especially hard by the change—and the rule failed to account for the varied types of work done by affected employees and the increasing need for flexible work arrangements.
  • They’ve prevented employers from incentivizing safe workplace practices.
  • And they’ve tried to turn back the clock on labor law, refusing to allow modernizations to take place that best fit the modern workplace.

It’s time for more balance: a labor policy that can achieve both a positive work environment and create new job openings in manufacturing and in other sectors for all Americans. It’s the type of labor policy we lay out in the NAM’s new “Competing to Win” blueprint on labor policy and the agenda we’re confident President-elect Trump and Andrew Puzder can get working on right away—if senators act in manufacturing’s and the people’s interest.

Manufacturers Hopeful Pruitt Will Bring Balanced Environmental Approach

By | Energy, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Manufacturers have routinely found themselves at odds with the outgoing Obama administrationeven in these last few daysbecause it continues to hammer us with regulations that lack critical balance. Just in the past two weeks, the administration seems determined to push the limits of the presidents regulatory power: a massive stream buffer regulation that effectively bans coal‎ mining, followed by a legally tenuous decision to indefinitely ban offshore oil and gas leasing in Alaska and the Atlantic and lastly a chemical storage regulation that imposes major costs but would not actually solve the problem (a Texas fertilizer plant explosion) it was designed to prevent. When these are layered on top of massive, billion-dollar regulations like the Clean Power Plan, Waters of the United States, ozone, PM 2.5, Boiler MACT and Utility MACT, the picture comes clearly into focus: the Obama administration is capping eight solid years of overregulation with a final backbreaking few weeks of the worst of the worst.

‎Throughout, manufacturers have been confronted with regulations where costs greatly exceeded their benefits, a government picking winners and losers in terms of energy sources, caused mass closings of power plants in the Rust Belt and across the southern United States and forced manufacturers to divert capital to environmental compliance that should have been used instead to innovate and create new products.

Well, we are now hopeful this is about to change.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) recently cheered the announcement of Oklahoma Attorney General (AG) Scott Pruitt for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said AG Pruitt’s nomination made him “hopeful the next administration will strike the right balance between environmental stewardship and economic growth.”‎

Our Competing to Win white papers for environment and energy lay out a bold agenda for the new EPA administrator and call on that person to issue policies that protect health, safety and jobs. We call for regulations—on air, water, waste and chemicals and even greenhouse gases—but we want them to be done better and in a more balanced way. ‎

We are confident AG Pruitt will bring balance to the EPA regulatory agenda. Manufacturers have stood side-by-side with AG Pruitt as we challenged the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, Waters of the United States regulation and 2015 ozone standard. In all three cases, manufacturers asked for regulations we could live with—and when we didn’t get them, we were forced to sue. AG Pruitt did the same for the citizens of Oklahoma.

We encourage the Senate to move swiftly in confirming his nomination so this important agenda can begin on day one.

The environment has improved dramatically over the past 40 years. And we believe the EPA plays an important role in preserving the environment by supporting clear, smart regulations that encourage responsible use of our natural resources while keeping energy prices low—not at the cost of the economy, like we have seen over the past eight years.

It’s a winwin for manufacturers and the communities they support. We look forward to working with AG Pruitt on day one to achieve this.

 

Manufacturers Energized by President-Elect’s Focus on Manufacturing

By | Communications, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons issued the following statement on the President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement on the creation of the White House National Trade Council under the leadership of Dr. Peter Navarro.

Great things are on the horizon for manufacturers. Americans voted for change this election, and we’re energized by President-elect Trump’s continued strong commitment to manufacturing in the United States. Today, the president-elect sent another clear signal to the millions of Americans employed in manufacturing that they will be ‘put first’ in his administration.

“We welcome the president-elect’s decision to put action behind the force of his words with the formation of the White House National Trade Council. We look forward to working with the president-elect and Dr. Navarro to enact the policies we need to strengthen and grow manufacturing in America.

 

 

Administration’s Attempt to Block Access to Offshore Energy Is “Out of Touch”

By | Energy, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

In what many are describing as a purely political move, the outgoing administration announced a last-minute attempt to block much of America’s access to offshore energy resources. Our nation’s energy policy took a step back today, but manufacturers are ready to take two steps forward with a fresh start in the new year.

Fortunately, this move to increase energy costs for manufacturers and families across our country can be reversed. As the innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs and disruptors who are improving lives and transforming the world, manufacturers look forward to working with the next president to fix this misguided move and open opportunity for future generations. Read More

The Workforce of Tomorrow

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The incoming Trump administration has placed a high value on the need to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. With more than 12 million manufacturing workers in the United States, accounting for 9 percent of the workforce, it is clear to see why. These jobs are the backbone of our economy.

However, to keep jobs in the United States, we must address the fundamental reality that there is a skills gap in manufacturing that is widening each year: the skills workers have are not always the skills that are in demand. Current projections forecast nearly 2 million jobs will remain unfilled over the next 10 years due to the skills gap. Read More

Immigration Reform to Strengthen Manufacturing and Competitiveness

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

 

As the nation moves forward under new leadership, one of the greatest challenges we continue to face is finding a way to manage and improve the broken immigration system.

From frustrations about security at the southern border to a legal immigration system that is unresponsive to employer needs, both Democrats and Republicans agree the immigration system is not functional. The system as it stands today frustrates those who come in contact with a sprawling bureaucracy and cumbersome process that appears accountable to no one.

Reform of the immigration system is not a simple exercise. Each change, even small changes in the regulatory sphere, can affect thousands of manufacturing employees and cost millions of dollars. Careful consideration must be made to address the apprehensions of many Americans, such as border security.

We need to create a workable system for lesser skilled immigrants that allows workers to be in the United States when there is demand and lets us know who is here.

Our system for higher skilled immigrants deserves reform, too. The current system is too limited and inflexible and actually sends innovation and jobs overseas. We are driving out foreign-born talent, often educated in the United States, who then compete against us instead of working with us. They are moving abroad to work, manufacture and innovate, when their talents could be put to use here to grow our economy and create new jobs.

Congress and the next administration have an obligation to holistically tackle this public policy challenge. Manufacturers believe that immigration reform must be revisited in 2017.

Immigrants, at all skill levels, come to this country because they want to work. We are a country built by immigrants and a nation where immigrants thrive more than anywhere in the world. We need not only to ensure that we are keeping threats to the Unites States out, but also bringing skills, talents and ambition that will help this country grow. As manufacturers have laid our in our “Competing to Win” immigration blueprint, we must do the following:

  • Ensure manufactures’ reliable access to talent at all skill levels.
  • Offer career opportunities to keep talent onshore.
  • Address the undocumented worker population in a practical, moral and respectful way.
  • Advance a rigorous and fair employment verification system.
  • Improve safety and security at the border in a workable way that allows for the free trade of goods.

Comprehensive reform can strengthen our economy and country. We should not turn our back on the opportunity for stability and security.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

 

For Manufacturers, Trade Must Be Open and Fair

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

A highly interconnected global economy is a fact for manufacturers big and small throughout the United States. Advances in technology and transportation over recent decades have created substantial new opportunities for manufacturers in the United States to reach millions of foreign consumers. That interconnection has also brought increased competition from growing manufacturing sectors around the world, in some cases fueled by market-distorting and discriminatory trade practices that put our manufacturers, workers and communities at an unfair disadvantage.

When markets are open and rules of fairness and equal opportunity are enforced for all, manufacturers in the United States can and do succeed. Consider the following:

  • More than half of the U.S. manufacturing workforce depends on exports for their jobs, and nearly half of all U.S.-manufactured goods exports are sold just to the 20 countries that have eliminated barriers through free trade agreements.
  • Employees in the “most trade-intensive industries” earn an average compensation of nearly $94,000, or more than 56 percent more than those in manufacturing companies that were less engaged in trade.

With the world’s most productive manufacturing sector in the world, but a domestic market that represents only 10 percent of global consumption and growing global competition, manufacturers in the United States need more robust trade policies and agreements to grow. To be part of the solution, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has shared with the Trump transition team our Competing to Win” agenda, which includes a blueprint for a winning trade policy.

The NAM is calling on the new administration to focus on three key elements to ensure an open and fair trading system:

  1. Strong enforcement of global trade rules to crack down on cheating.
  2. Negotiation of new bilateral and other trade agreements to expand market access, raise standards, ensure fairness and equal opportunity and eliminate foreign market-distorting practices.
  3. Adoption of customs, financing, export control and other policies to make manufacturers in the United States more globally competitive.

Manufacturers are committed to working domestically and internationally to tap growth beyond our borders and eliminate foreign trade abuses to continue to expand a highly productive and innovative U.S. manufacturing sector that can continue to sustain and increase good-paying American jobs.

 

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition” series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

markit

Markit: U.S. Manufacturing Output in December Grew at Strongest Rate Since March 2015

By | Economy, Shopfloor Economics, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI edged up from 54.1 in November to 54.2 in December, a 21-month high. This mostly mirrored assessments about new orders growth (up from 55.5 to 55.6), which also expanded at the fastest pace over that time frame. Other indicators were mixed but encouraging. Employment expanded at its highest rate in 18 months (up from 52.4 to 54.1), whereas output grew modestly but pulled back a little in December (down from 56.0 to 55.1). On a more disappointing note, exports slowed to a near crawl but were positive for the sixth time in the past seven months (down from 51.0 to 50.3). Softer international demand, however, should not be surprising given the strong U.S. dollar. Overall, this report provides some encouragement for manufacturers, many of whom have been rather cautious in their economic outlook for much of the past two years.

Meanwhile, it was a similar story at year’s end in Europe. The Markit Flash Eurozone Manufacturing PMI increased from 53.7 in November to 54.9 in December, a level not seen since April 2011. As such, the continent’s economy continues to move in the right direction, with activity accelerating at a decent rate. The headline PMI has trended higher since bottoming out at 51.2 in February. The underlying data were higher across the board in December, including new orders (up from 54.4 to 56.1), output (up from 54.1 to 56.1), exports (up from 54.1 to 54.7) and hiring (up from 53.4 to 53.7). In addition, manufacturers in France (up from 51.7 to 53.5) and Germany (up from 54.8 to 56.8) were also more upbeat. In particular, French manufacturing activity expanded at its fastest pace in 67 months, an impressive accomplishment given that the data were in contraction territory as recently as September.

hmi

Home Builder Confidence in December at Highest Level Since July 2005

By | Economy, Shopfloor Economics, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo reported that the Housing Market Index (HMI) rose strongly, up from 63 in November to 70 in December. It was the highest level of confidence since July 2005, reflecting strong optimism among homebuilders in their economic outlook after the election. Index values greater than 50 indicate builders are more confident in their outlook than not, with numbers greater than 60 suggesting strong expectations for activity. Respondents were more upbeat in every region.

Builders continue to report healthy assessments about single-family home sales over the next six months. The index for expected sales jumped from 69 in November to 78 in December. Still, NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz cautioned that “builders remain sensitive to rising mortgage rates and continue to deal with shortages of lots and labor.”

Competing to Win: How to Accelerate Manufacturing Innovation

By | Innovation, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

Autonomous vehicles. Smart phones. Lifesaving medicines. All are made possible by the innovation of manufacturers. Technology is transforming the manufacturing industry, and the manufacturing industry is transforming our world.

Manufacturers in the United States perform more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development (R&D) in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector, changing our society and helping Americans live better lives. But our continued progress is not guaranteed. We need our leaders to embrace policies that encourage innovation—not stand in its way—because a country that can’t invent can’t lead.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has laid manufacturers’ technology policy priorities in a new blueprint, as part of our “Competing to Win” agenda:

  • Enable a regulatory and legislative climate that creates the conditions for discovering the next great life-changing inventions.
  • Secure those inventions by protecting the intellectual property rights of manufacturers.
  • Partner with the industry in the area of cybersecurity but not through the creation of a new and unnecessary regulatory regime.
  • Encourage the growth of connected technology when they consider updating our telecommunications laws.

The technologies embraced by manufacturers in the 21st century are improving business models, transforming customer relationships and re-inventing the world. Policymakers in Washington now must decide whether they will accelerate, or stand in the way, of a new economy that innovates and works better for everyone.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.