Reports of American Manufacturing’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

We don't make anything here anymore.

The jobs are gone, and they aren't coming back.

There's no future in manufacturing.

Those are just a few of the myths we here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) sadly hear regularly about American manufacturing — and we bet you've heard a few of them, too.  

We spend a lot of time trying to debunk them. Turns out, the team at the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) Foundation also hears these misguided notions quite a bit, and the organization is out with a new report that does a little myth busting. MAPI focused on four key myths:

  • Myth No. 1: U.S. Manufacturing is in Decline. While there's no doubt that the United States has lost manufacturing jobs in recent years — at least 3.2 million jobs have been outsourced to China since 2001, and between 2000 and 2010 the sector shed 5.7 million jobs — it is a misnomer to say that American manufacturing is on the brink of extinction, as has been portrayed in some media accounts. As MAPI notes, the U.S. remains a "major force in global manufacturing." If the sector was its own economy, it would be the seventh largest in the world. The total manufacturing value chain could be as high as $5.5 trillion. About 17 percent of global manufacturing activity happens in the United States, and America dominates advanced manufacturing. On the job front, nearly 9 percent of the workforce is employed in manufacturing — still a pretty good percentage.
  • Myth No. 2: Manufacturing is a Poor Career Choice. You've heard these myths, no doubt. Factory work is dirty and dangerous, and unstable in the long term. But as MAPI highlights, manufacturing actually as a lower rate of job turnover than jobs in nonmanufacturing. Manufacturing jobs pay 16 percent higher than service sector jobs — and a manufacturing job is more likely to include benefits. U.S. manufacturing also employs a large percentage of STEM workers — 37 percent of architecture and engineering workers and 16 percent of all life, physical and social scientists.
  • Myth No. 3: U.S. Manufacturing Isn't Needed. This comes from the idea that since countries like China make most of our apparel and consumer electronics, American manufacturing just isn't needed anymore. This, of course, is wrong — the service sector alone isn't going to keep the economy rolling. Without manufacturing, the U.S. would lack innovation, including things like robots and 3D printers and other technologies. Research and development also would lag — manufacturing R&D is four to five times greater than nonmanufacturing R&D. Even the most ardent free traders also must admit that manufacturing is needed to realize the gains from trade; without the money generated from exports, the U.S. would have a hard time affording the goods we import.
  • Myth No. 4: Manufacturing is Unduly Harmful to the Environment. Think of a picture of a factory. You probably imagine smokestacks spewing pollution into the sky. But American manufacturing facilities today operate under strict environmental standards and have worked hard to reduce their carbon footprint. Air pollution emissions from U.S. manufacturing fell by 60 percent from 1990 to 2008, despite an increase in output. 

The entire report is worth checking out — and will help you answer back when you hear folks spreading manufacturing myths.


Reposted from Think Progress.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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