Today, the National Association of Manufacturers sent a letter to the House of Representatives and Senate expresses support for H.R. 83, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act. The letter, from NAM Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse, outlines a number of measures in the legislation that are priorities for the manufacturing sector and will help the economy continue to rebound. (continue reading…)
Manufacturers lost a great leader. Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President David Olson will be missed greatly by manufacturers, his fellow NAM Board Members and many more across the country.
David left us after a life not long enough, but long enough for joy and love and laughter and good times – and long enough to leave a lasting footprint on the business community, his state and his country.
He inspired all of us and will be remembered by the countless individuals whose lives he made better. David always had colorful stories to tell, laughs to laugh, words to write, legislators to buttonhole, lobbies to walk and battles to fight. He passionately led the business community in Minnesota for decades with great optimism and strong faith. As a champion for economic growth, he provided pragmatic solutions that transcended party politics.
What most of us remember best is not specifically what David did or said, but how he did it – as a unique, wonderful, patriotic and highly intelligent human being. He connected with each of us in some unusual way to get a job done. Through his words and actions, he made us proud and proud to know him.
He was the epitome of hardworking Minnesotan values and a leader among his peers. I was fortunate enough to count him as my friend.
In an industry that seems to grow more homogenized every day, David had very much his own voice. His lifetime of dedication serves as a monument to the exemplary man he was. His integrity and hard work will encourage those who knew him and will continue to benefit those who make Minnesota their home for years to come. Among the best things David has left behind is his shining example.
The House won’t vote on comprehensive immigration reform this year—that’s the recent word from Speaker Boehner. Manufacturers are disappointed. With each day that passes, Congress misses an opportunity to take an important step forward for our economy and country.
Immigration reform is a priority for manufacturers. With some 80 percent of employers reporting a shortage of skilled workers, reform can provide a bridge so employers can begin to close the skills gap as we simultaneously undertake efforts to improve education and training efforts. And, in addition to the practical considerations, immigration reform is simply the right thing to do.
Of course, while manufacturers are frustrated by the inaction on reform, we’re not giving up. It’s not a matter of if immigration reform will happen; it’s a matter of when. Our country is better than our current, broken immigration system. That’s why manufacturers are committed to advancing immigration reform done right—a comprehensive solution that includes a pathway to citizenship and ensure that those who seek it aren’t denied the American Dream.
Individual cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rarely get noticed by anyone other than labor or employment lawyers, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth watching. These decisions have broad implications for all employers, not just the one involved directly in the case.
Recently, an NLRB administrative law judge (ALJ) issued a decision that, if allowed to stand, would have significant implications for manufacturers and their intellectual property. The judge concluded that Boeing’s prohibition of cameras—a policy that has been in place for 35 years—constitutes an unfair labor practice because Boeing has no credible business need to protect its manufacturing process. Of course, as technology has developed, the rule has captured additional devices, and today smartphones fall under the ban.
Boeing has good reason to be cautious about allowing unfettered photographic access to its shop floor. For one, its competitors and some foreign governments would love to get their hands on Boeing’s proprietary information. The ALJ would make that easy for corporate spies—just go to an employee’s Facebook page and study photos from inside Boeing. In addition, many of Boeing’s products are subject to strict export controls. Making photos of these products or processes public could violate federal law.
The NLRB’s decision puts Boeing in a tough spot, creating a problem where none existed. And, besides, NLRB lawyers shouldn’t be in the business of creating new rights for employees in the first place.
Because of the dangerous precedent this case could set for future disputes before the NLRB, the NAM filed a brief highlighting this overreach and the impact it would have on businesses, particularly manufacturers. For more information about the case, click here.
Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, appeared the Economic Club of Washington, DC, on June 17 to talk about the key ingredients for economic growth in the United States.
In a wide-ranging policy discussion, the head of the telecommunications giant honed in issues like immigration reform and tax reform as opportunities to drive and attract investment. Stephenson also highlighted the need for strong trade policies and the importance of free trade agreements. Currently, the United States’ ability to negotiate new agreements and complete pending ones is hindered by the lack of Trade Promotion Authority, which helps streamline the negotiation process.
Stephenson’s remarks send a powerful message from the business community about the necessity of engaging with Washington. Policymakers, whether on Capitol Hill or in the executive branch, need to hear from America’s job creators—because like it or not, what happens in Washington matters to businesses. We need to be at the table for these important discussions.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that personal spending growth weakened somewhat in September, even as personal incomes grew. Consumers purchased 0.2 percent more in September, down from the 0.3 percent rate of August. On a year-over-year basis, the pace of personal spending growth has decelerated from 3.3 percent in June to 2.7 percent in September, suggesting some degree of hesitance on the part of Americans to increase their overall spending.
This was particularly true for durable goods products, which spending in this category essentially flat in the third quarter, according to this data. For the month, spending on durable goods was down 1.3 percent in September, rebounding from a 1.4 percent increase in August. In contrast, nondurable goods spending in the third quarter was up 1.3 percent, with a 0.6 percent gain in September.
Meanwhile, personal income growth remained strong, up 0.5 percent in both August and September. Over the course of the past 12 months, incomes have risen 3.7 percent, but in the third quarter, the annual pace accelerated to 4.45 percent, a sign of renewed strength.
Manufacturing sector wages and salaries edged higher for the month, up from $754.3 billion to $754.6 billion. This figure has grown slow-but-steady, reflecting upward movement from averages of $707.1 billion and $735.4 billion in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Total wages and salaries were up 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent over the past two months.
With growth in personal income outstripping personal spending in each of the past three months, the savings rate has moved higher. It has grown from 4.4 percent in June to 4.9 percent in September. This was the highest savings rate of 2013 so far, approaching the average of 5.3 percent for January to November of 2012. (I omitted December due to accelerated payouts skewing the data in the lead-up to the fiscal cliff deal.)
These data also show that inflationary pressures remain modest. Similar to the recent consumer price index report, price gains for consumer items have risen in an acceptable range. Year-over-year growth in prices for core personal consumption expenditures was 1.2 percent in September, the same as in August and roughly unchanged for the past six months. This keeps prices below the 2 percent growth threshold established by the Federal Reserve Board, with minimal inflationary pressures for now.
Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.
A big debate on energy exports is playing out in the Pacific Northwest. Passions are running high on both sides, no doubt fueled in part by meticulously brewed cups of java.
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons recently waded into the debate. In remarks to business community leaders in Portland and later in Seattle, he made a strong case in support of building the infrastructure necessary to move goods and commodities, such as coal and natural gas, to markets abroad. He said:
Building, modernizing and expanding export terminals makes sense. In a still sluggish economy, expansion will create over 10,000 jobs in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the entire manufacturing economy in America. Expansion means more private investment in export infrastructure—not just for commodities like coal and liquefied natural gas—but for agriculture and manufactured products. It’s a winning proposition.
Currently, plans to modernize export terminals in Washington and Oregon are effectively on hold. Approval of these projects takes the consent of seemingly every level of government, giving opponents plenty of opportunities to stall. All the while, the Pacific Northwest is missing out on the increased economic activity the export terminals would make possible.
The debate over energy exports isn’t isolated to the Pacific Northwest. Similar debates are taking place across the country, particularly on the issue of natural gas exports. The United States has abundant supplies of natural gas, which are now being developed thanks to advancements in hydraulic fracturing. By exporting energy, whether coal or natural gas, the United States can enhance its global economic leadership, boost economic growth and create high-wage jobs.
“Other growing global economies need energy,” Timmons remarked during his trip to the Pacific Northwest. “Why shouldn’t it be from America?”
Veterans enter the civilian workforce every day. Unfortunately, there are more veterans than open jobs—as a roughly 8 percent unemployment rate among veterans indicates.
After bravely serving our country, veterans deserve a hero’s welcome. They also deserve a good job, and manufacturers are stepping up to make that happen. Across the country, manufacturers are looking for ways to introduce veterans to manufacturing and get them to work.
Take Hoerbiger Corporation of America. When the Florida-based manufacturer saw a need for skilled machinists, it saw veterans as a natural fit. As the Sun-Sentinel reports,
[E]arlier this year the company developed a training program to fill the gap and began recruiting veterans.
They tend to exhibit “maturity, discipline, tenacity and an ability to get the job done,” said David Gonzalez, the company’s human resources manager. He recruited veterans in May at the Paychecks for Patriots job fair in Dania Beach.
The result: Seven of the 12 machinists put through the program are military veterans.
To help train these individuals, Hoerbiger turned to another manufacturer and a cutting-edge educational system.
Hoerbiger trained the group with the help of new machine simulation software by Machining Training Solutions, a Longwood, Fla., company operated by Al Stimac, president of the Manufacturers Association of Florida. Ten to 12 workers can be trained at a time with the interactive software.
“My whole concept was to train using the methods that students are used to, such as today an iPad or a computer. The learning curve is reduced drastically,” Stimac said.
There are similar stories across the country. The National Association of Manufacturers through the Manufacturing Institute is working with a number of manufacturers are part of the Get Skills to Work program. This initiative matches the skills veterans received in the military to skills coveted by manufacturers. If veterans need to learn new skills, the Institute and its partners can help them earn those credentials through partnerships with community colleges and other educational institutions.
Manufacturers are helping veterans transition from the military in other ways as well. In addition to its efforts to recruit veterans to its workforce, Whirlpool Corporation recently became the official appliance sponsor of Homes for Our Troops, a non-profit initiative dedicated to building homes for severely injured veterans.
It’s the least manufacturers can do for the men and women who make great sacrifices to safeguard our freedom.
NAM Member Company, Boeing, introduced its second member of the Dreamliner family today. The first flight of the new, innovative 787-9 successfully took place today at 1:30pm EST.
Boeing has always had a reputation for manufacturing advancements in air travel and they have done it again today with their new plane manufactured in Everett, WA. The new 787-9 will carry more passengers, cargo, and has the ability to travel further than any other 787. It is a more capable and efficient airplane than those that came before it. The entire Boeing team, from the designers, engineers, executives and the men and women on the shop floor deserve a round of applause for taking air travel to the next level.
The NAM congratulates Boeing on delivering another state-of-the-art and efficient means of travel to customers around the world.
The Census Bureau said that overall construction spending fell 0.6 percent in June, with weaknesses in both the residential and nonresidential sectors. Despite a very healthy gain in residential activity of 17.6 percent over the past 12 months, it was 0.1 percent lower in June. This somewhat mirrors earlier findings on lower housing starts and permits — a decrease possibly influenced by higher mortgage rates. That report suggested that the decline in new residential construction activity was primarily in the multi-family units segment.
Meanwhile, the level of manufacturing construction projects decreased from $45.9 billion in May to $45.1 billion in June. This was off from $49.5 billion in December, suggesting a drop of 8.9 percent year-to-date. The December figure was a bit of an outlier, though, and the year-over-year decline was a more modest 1.9 percent. Either way, it is clear that there has been a pulling back in construction investment in the first half of 2013.
For the larger private, nonresidential sector, spending declined 0.9 percent for the month, with year-over-year growth of 1.4 percent. The largest monthly increases were in the power, communications, and transportation sectors. In contrast, religious, educational, amusement and recreation, and lodging entities reduced their construction spending in June.
In terms of public construction projects, there were decreases of 1.1 percent for the month, or 9.3 percent lower year-over-year. There was lower spending found in the conservation and development, water supply, sewage and waste disposal, and public safety. These were somewhat counteracted by increases in power, office, health care, and commercial developments, among others.
Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.