Tax and Regulatory Burdens Still Top of Manufacturers’ Minds

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

Earlier today, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released the results of its second quarter 2016 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, showing an uptick in overall sentiment. In this survey, 61.7 percent of manufacturers expressed positivity about their own company’s outlook, up from 56.6 percent in March. This marks the most optimistic manufacturers have been since December 2015.

However, NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray said, “While this survey offers a bit of optimism for manufacturers, there is still a dramatic need for improvement before our sector can regain its footing. This survey, coupled with the latest jobs report, should serve as a stark reminder to Congress that policy priorities, including market-opening trade agreements and comprehensive tax reform as well as addressing regulatory barriers, are top of manufacturers’ minds. If lawmakers in Washington take action on these and other items, they could help reverse the pain manufacturers are experiencing, expanding job opportunities and strengthening the broader economy as a result.” Read More

Will You Stand with Us to Reform Regulation?

By | Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

35,000. That’s the cost of federal regulations endured by a small manufacturer with fewer than 50 employees—per year, per employee!

I think we can all agree: this isn’t the way our regulatory system should work. It is time for real reform.

That’s why the National Association of Manufacturers, in partnership with the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, is launching a project called Rethink Red Tape to bring the regulatory issue to life for lawmakers in Washington and provide real momentum for reform.

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Regulations are important, but the constant churn of new and misguided rules leads to regulations that are counterproductive, contradictory and next to impossible to understand. That’s especially hard for small business owners who don’t have the resources to keep pace with new regulations and absorb their higher costs.

Layers of excessive regulations hurt manufacturers’ ability to invest in new innovations, and our entire economy suffers as a result.

To correct this and enable American manufacturers and small businesses to grow and create jobs, regulatory reform has to be a bipartisan priority. Transparency, accountability and honest evaluations of small business costs need to be part of our government’s regulatory calculus. Too often, this is the exception and not the rule.

Through Rethink Red Tape, we’re working to change that, but we need your help to make this work. We need you to stand with us.

Rethink Red Tape will bring personal viewpoints and real-life stories to the conversation to explain the impact regulations have on small firms and the hours and opportunities manufacturers lose because of them.

As our program grows, we’ll identify and advance bipartisan solutions that will change the way regulations are written and give small businesses a stronger voice in the process.

Join us at www.RethinkRedTape.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

New Onerous Requirement for Shippers Coming Online This Summer

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade, Transportation | No Comments

A new International Maritime Organization (IMO) rule requiring shippers to physically weigh containers and their contents before being loaded at the port of origin is expected to come into effect on July 1, 2016. This amendment to the long-standing International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty places an additional burden on shippers (both exporters and importers) to obtain and certify the Verified Gross Mass (VGM), or combined weight of cargo and the container. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is the responsible agency for overseeing and enforcing this new requirement, and it will be implemented around the world by the other 161 signatories to the treaty.

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NFIB: Small Business Optimism Was Unchanged in October

By | General, Shopfloor Economics | No Comments

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said that optimism was unchanged in October. The Small Business Optimism Index remained at 96.1 in October, representing some progress since the 94.1 reading observed in June. Coincidently, the index was 96.1 in October 2014, as well. Overall, it is also clear that small business owners remain anxious about the economy, with index values under 100 typically coinciding with softer economic growth. With that said, there were also positive developments for the month. For instance, the percentage of respondents saying that the next three months were a “good time to expand” increased from 12 percent to 13 percent, its highest level since February. This figure has trended higher over the past year, averaging 9.8 for all of 2014 and 11.6 year-to-date for 2015. Meanwhile, the percent planning capital expenditures over the next three to six months rose from 25 percent to 26 percent.  Read More

Overtime Proposal Misses the Mark

By | Human Resources | No Comments

On July 6, the Department of Labor proposed a new income threshold to determine who would be eligible to receive overtime pay. The current threshold of $23,660 a year, or $455 per week, has been in place since 2004 and we have to go back to 1975 in order to look at the time before that. In total, the income threshold for overtime has been increased seven times since it was first implemented in 1938. It has never been indexed to inflation, wage rates, or any measure. The threshold being proposed would increase to $50,440 a year, or $970 per week, and then indexed to either the 40th percentile of all salaried employees, or to the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). If the $50,440 figure strikes you as a bit high and wide of the strike-zone, you would be right. In the chart below, you can see why. Read More

Regulation and Uncertainty Leads to Decreased Investment and Innovation

By | Regulations, Technology | No Comments

A new paper was recently released by Georgetown University’s Center for Business and Public Policy citing that increased regulation will lead to a decrease in investment in our nation’s broadband infrastructure. The manufacturing industry is embedding technology in their products and across their shop floors to deliver sophisticated products and compete in the global marketplace. A decrease in the investment in the technology backbone helping to drive that innovation is something we cannot afford. Read More

You’re Demoted!

By | Human Resources | No Comments

Donald Trump turned one of the most feared phrases in the workplace into a punchline. As the star of The Apprentice, Trump famously critiqued contestants in a board room and concluded by telling one of them, “You’re fired.” With the release of a new proposed regulation on overtime, it seems President Obama is rebranding the show’s tagline to “You’re demoted!” Read More

Government Scientists Warn of Peril for Manufacturers with New Ozone Rules

By | Energy | No Comments

In a commentary published in the journal Science today, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists found that reliable data on ozone levels, especially in the Intermountain West, is elusive because of background levels of ground-level ozone.  Accordingly, compliance with existing standards is complicated and bound to get more complicated – if not impossible. Read More

Manufacturers Speak Out About Regulation

By | Regulations | No Comments

The NAM’s annual Manufacturing Summit was held June 10-11. The event brought more than 500 manufacturers of every size and representing dozens of industries to Washington to meet with Members of Congress. Over two days, manufacturers participated in 220 hill meetings and were able to tell their stories to lawmakers about the impact of federal policies on their abilities to provide jobs, expand their businesses and compete in a global economy. A common theme for many manufacturers through the summit was the challenges they face with inefficient and outdated regulations—especially from small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

Richard Gimmel is the President of Atlas Machine and Supply, a small manufacturer of complex compressor equipment and industrial components in Louisville, Kentucky. He discussed why our regulatory system is placing manufacturers in the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage:

“Work force regulations, environmental regulations, [and] tax regulations – the cost of compliance with all of these regulations is extremely burdensome, particularly for a small company like ours. We have 200 employees, and by standards of most manufacturers, we’re below average in size. So, we have to employ resources, disproportionate to our size, just to ensure the paperwork is in order.”

Unnecessary regulatory burdens weigh heavily on the minds of manufacturers. In a NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers released in March, nearly 80 percent of respondents cited an unfavorable business climate due to regulations, taxes and government uncertainties as a primary challenge facing businesses, up from 67.7 percent in the first quarter of 2013 and 62.2 percent in March 2012. The unfavorable business climate due to government policies exceeded rising health care and insurance costs, which ranked second (77.1 percent).

Manufacturing in America is making a comeback, but this comeback could be much stronger if federal policies did not impede growth. If we are to succeed in creating a more competitive economy, we must reform our regulatory system so that manufacturers can innovate and make better products instead of spending hours and resources complying with inefficient, duplicative and unnecessary regulations. Manufacturers are committed to commonsense regulatory reforms that protect the environment and public health and safety as well as prioritize economic growth and job creation. The time is now for members of both parties to work together to find ways to improve the regulatory system.