While the United States is still the world's leading manufacturer, American manufacturing has been in decline for years. Since the 1990's the U.S. has had a net loss of more than 5 million manufacturing jobs. The reality of the new global economy is that some of these jobs just aren't coming back. That doesn't mean Congress can't help keep the ones we still have here -- nor does it mean we can't encourage the growth of new types of jobs in the manufacturing sector.
As mentioned previously, Congress needs to act to drastically improve on America's infrastructure. Manufacturing jobs rely on an ability to produce and distribute products cheaply and efficiently. Our manufacturing sector cannot grow significantly without new investments in infrastructure.
One recent report estimated that intellectual property theft overseas has cost the United States two million manufacturing jobs. This is unacceptable. Congress and the President need to do more to push countries like China to enforce American patent laws.
Portions of our corporate tax code literally allow companies to write off as a business expenditure the costs involved in moving a manufacturing plant overseas. Ideally we need a tax code that encourages American companies to keep jobs here in America - at a minimum we need one that stops rewarding them for shipping the jobs overseas.
Despite the high unemployment rate, there are actually still American manufacturing jobs going unfilled today. Many new manufacturing jobs require technical or associate's degrees that unemployed American workers unfortunately don't have. Congress needs to push for and invest in better scientific, math and technical training in our schools and for more opportunities for adult education.
As levels of trade with the Asian nations continues to grow, West Coast American ports such as those in Tacoma and Olympia have an enormous advantage in moving these goods. Because of already tremendous competition from foreign ports such as Prince Rupert in Canada and the Panama Canal after improvements to it are completed, the nation must do everything it can to stay competitive.
I support continuing funding for the Export-Import Bank to assist with financing the export of US goods to international markets. The Export-Import Bank helps American manufacturers compete with international exporters in other nations who have similar mechanisms available to them through their governments.
Manufacturing jobs pay on average 20% more than the national average. They're good, family-wage jobs that our nation needs right now. In addition, most new manufacturing jobs create several more indirect jobs in industries that support the manufacturing sector. Our long-term economic recovery must include an expansion and rebirth of American manufacturing.