Category: From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Factories Lose 2,000 Jobs in September

From the AAM

Manufacturing employment dropped in September, with the sector losing 2,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. Motor vehicles and parts saw 4,100 lost jobs, while computer and electronic products gained 3,800 jobs.   

Meanwhile, new trade figures showed that the overall goods and services deficit hit $54.9 billion in August, up $0.9 billion from July, while the goods deficit with China reached $28.9 billion.

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul said:

September was a lousy month for factory jobs. While many pressures may have contributed to this month's employment decline, one thing is becoming more clear: Manufacturing is weak right now.

There are a couple of policy shifts that could help strengthen the sector. First, passing a robust new investment in our nation’s infrastructure. Second, reconsidering the merits of an overvalued dollar, which is hampering our exports. Third, a final trade agreement with China that will rein in its massive industrial overcapacity and subsidies, and provide our businesses and workers with more certainty and a better playing field.

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The FTC’s Enforcement of “Made in USA” is Notoriously Weak. It’s Time to Change That.

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

We cover a lot of ground here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing — Trade! Infrastructure! Tom Cruise! — but there’s nothing that gets us more excited than learning about an American-made product. Whether it’s a small piece of jewelry or a big piece of steel, we love highlighting the amazing workers and companies who manufacture their products in the United States.

After all, a lot of hard work — and often extra expense — goes into that “Made in USA” label. U.S. companies and workers must take care to ensure that “all or virtually all” of their products are made in the United States.

When something is labeled as “Made in USA,” many consumers recognize the effort that is behind it, along with the millions of jobs that American-made products support. The label can be a deciding factor when someone is deciding on what product to buy.

Made in USA means something.

And while nothing gets us more excited than a Made in USA product, nothing gets us more fired up than when a company knowingly mislabels its product as Made in USA. What’s worse is that these cheaters have been getting away with it.

It happens more than you think. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) caught some pretty brazen Made in USA cheats:

  • One company sold military-themed backpacks – including on military bases! – with an “American-made” label.  The FTC found that the vast majority of that company’s products were made in China or Mexico.
  • Another company made hockey pucks, and even positioned itself as “the all-American alternative to imported pucks.” All of the company’s pucks were imported from China.
  • A direct-to-consumer mattress firm advertised its mattresses as assembled in the United States. The mattresses were made in China.

But in all three of these blatant cases of Made in USA cheating, the FTC politely asked these bad actors to stop this deceitful behavior.

The cheaters paid zero fines — they kept every penny they made deliberately deceiving consumers. No notices to consumers were issued. The companies didn’t even have to admit any wrongdoing!

What’s the point in even having a strong “Made in USA” standard if it isn’t enforced?

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Teamsters Say Taxpayer Dollars Shouldn’t Go to Chinese Companies to Build Transit

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters weighed in on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week, sending the chairpersons and ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees a letter outlining their priorities for the legislation.

First thing on the list? Make sure that the final legislation includes language from the Senate version of the bill that would prohibit “the use of tax dollars from supporting Chinese rail car and bus companies.” Here’s General President James P. Hoffa with more:

“As the proud representatives of American workers who both manufacture and operate thousands of American-made buses, we believe that American companies must be allowed to compete on an even playing field, free from Chinese interference into our transit system and manufacturing base.”

The Teamsters’ support for banning both rail cars and buses is significant. The Senate’s version of the NDAA included language prohibiting China’s state-owned, controlled or subsidized companies from receiving taxpayer dollars to build rail cars and buses, but the House version of the bill only applies to rail cars.

If Congress moves forth with the House version, it would be a huge oversight, to say the least. As we’ve discussed in this space before, there’s widespread bipartisan economic and national security concern about China’s role in building both.

First, there’s the threat to 750 companies and 90,000 jobs up and down the transportation supply chain, as China is aiming to dominate rail car and bus manufacturing via its “Made in China 2025” plan. China heavily subsidizes its state-owned and controlled companies, allowing them to severely underbid on government contracts to build these systems. The point isn’t to make money — China’s ultimate goal is to put competitors out of business and monopolize the global industry.

If you don’t think that’s realistic, just look at what has happened to the pharmaceutical industry.

“When you can subsidize, when you can wholly own an enterprise like China does, you can create a wholly unlevel playing field,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) recently told the New York Times. “We’re used to that unlevel playing field existing between the U.S. and China, but now it’s happening in our own backyard.”

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Manufacturing Rebounds in August

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

So check it out, we’ve got another economic indicator out. And this one – unlike another recent one – is good!

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that U.S. manufacturing output rose by 0.6% in August on the back of machinery and primary metals production. That may sound like only a little, but it beats a forecast returned by a poll of economists conducted by Reuters. From the story:

Motor vehicles and parts production fell 1.0% last month after increasing 0.5% in July. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, manufacturing output increased 0.6% in August after declining 0.5% in the prior month. Machinery output rebounded 1.6% after dropping 1.7% in July.

The jump in manufacturing output in August together with a 1.4% rebound in mining, lead to a 0.6% increase in industrial production last month. That was the largest gain in industrial output since August 2018 and followed a 0.1% dip July. Industrial production rose 0.4% on year-on-year basis in August.

Capacity utilization rates were up too. It’s a nice rebound in fortunes from the recently released ISM Manufacturing index, which signaled a further slowdown in economic activity.

So while its numbers aren’t astounding, manufacturing isn’t completely tanking. But the longer-term forecasts aren’t great, either. MarketWatch asked around, and those it spoke to said that the negative trend is likely to continue.

We’ve said it before and we’ve said it again: Infrastructure spending is the right way to turn this around.

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Reposted from AAM

Congress to Examine the Health and Safety Risks of China’s “Grip” on Medicine

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

A little over a year ago, AAM President Scott Paul chatted with health care expert Rosemary Gibson for an episode of The Manufacturing Report podcast. Gibson had just co-authored a new book examining an overlooked part of America’s trade relationship with China.

The book’s title says it all. In “China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine,” Gibson and co-author Janardan Prasad Singh outline how China now dominates pharmaceutical manufacturing — and why that is such a big problem for the United States.

Along with making a significant amount of medication, China also has a virtual monopoly on many of the essential ingredients that go into the pharmaceuticals that Americans depend on, including everything from over-the-counter vitamins to cancer meds to almost every antibiotic and blood pressure medication.

China’s dominance of the pharmaceutical supply chain means it has the power to cut off access to many of the medications Americans need to, um, live.

Think tariffs on cotton sweaters and bed linens are bad? Think about what would happen If China decided to cut off our medicine.

Pharmacy shelves would sit empty. Hospitals would close. People would die.

“Children and adults with cancer will suffer without vital medicines,” Gibson recently told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. “For people on kidney dialysis, treatment would cease, a veritable death sentence.”

It’s all very scary stuff. Keep you awake at night kind of stuff.

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New York Gov. Cuomo Wants to Make His State’s Buy American Law Permanent

Brian Lombardozzi

Brian Lombardozzi VP for State Governmental Affairs, AAM

New York City held its annual Labor Day Parade on Saturday, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo used the occasion to announce he will advance legislation to make the New York Buy American Act permanent. 

Originally passed in December 2017, the act requires all state-funded road and bridge projects worth more than $1 million to use iron and steel made in the United States. It is set to expire in April 2020, but Cuomo told the crowd that he is making the issue a top priority for next year’s budget session.

“What Buy America has shown, and what Buy America says, is the steel that we buy, the concrete that we buy, the iron we buy, must be American-made,” Cuomo said. “That does two things. No. 1, it protects American jobs and it grows New York jobs — manufacturing is now 5 percent of the New York economy — and it makes sure we have the best quality steel and concrete and iron going into our infrastructure projects.”

Since going into effect, the law has assured that several of the state’s largest infrastructure projects have used American-made iron and steel. This includes 110,000 tons of steel for the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge — also known as the new Tappan Zee Bridge — along with 6,580 tons of steel for the first two phases of the Kosciuszko Bridge and 11,500 tons of steel for the Kew Gardens Interchange. 

Using high-quality, safer steel made by workers here in the United States instead of lower-quality imports not only helps create and sustain thousands of union jobs, it assures the structures will last long into the future.

“We are building more than any state in the United States in America. No state is building what we are building here, over $250 billion in infrastructure, and we want to make sure that these projects last 100 years,” Cuomo said. “To do that, you have to know that steel, that concrete, that iron is top-quality material. And you only know that if that is made right here in the good ol’ USA, and that’s what we’re doing.”

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Is Manufacturing Slowing Down?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

There was new ISM data released today. And it wasn’t good. Oh no!

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM)’s monthly index is considered a pretty good gauge of activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector. ISM goes around, asks a bunch of folks whether they’re buying supplies or not, and averages them (and their comments) out. A score above 50% is good. Below is bad – it suggests a contraction in manufacturing activity. Anyway, it’s now at 49.1%.

This is no guarantee the manufacturing sector is about to slip. Somebody on the Internet who is paid to do economic analysis pointed out:

Meanwhile, another important gauge of the manufacturing sector’s health – employment data – will be out this Friday when the jobs report comes out.

But look, let's say this is fraying your nerves. The trade fight with China is dragging a little bit, the fight seems to be a drag on manufacutirng, and President Trump seems to be trying to influence it all by tweet.

Is there something Congress could do … that polls well … that Trump himself says (or at least implies) he wants … and is incredibly overdue … that could help improve the fortunes of the American manufacturing sector?

Infra … infrastruct … I can’t think of the word!

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Reposted from AAM

China’s Government-Owned CRRC Just Bought a German Locomotives Factory

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

An interesting little story from Europe popped up in our news alerts on Tuesday morning.

It seems that Vossloh, a German rail technology company, is divesting its locomotives business so it can focus on rail infrastructure.

Normally, we here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing wouldn’t pay much attention to the business dealings of a German manufacturer like Vossloh. But what caught our eye was who ended up buying Vossloh’s locomotives unit: China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation Ltd (CRRC).

Nikkei Asian Review reports:

“CRRC, the Chinese state company that is the world’s largest train maker, is set to gain a key foothold in Europe by acquiring its first factory on the continent… Vossloh announced Monday that it would sell a locomotive factory it opened last year to CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed CRRC.”

If you aren't familar with CRRC, it is a massive Chinese government-owned conglomerate with deep ties to the Chinese communist party. CRRC is a key player in the government’s “Made in China 2025” initiative, in which China is aiming to dominate sectors of the global industrial economy, including rail manufacturing.

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Military Leaders: Ban Buses & Rail Cars from Chinese State-Owned or Controlled Firms

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

We’ve been sounding the alarm about the risks that come with allowing Chinese government-owned or controlled companies to build U.S. transit systems like rail cars and buses (and with U.S. taxpayer dollars, natch). 

But hey, don’t take it from us. How about you take the word of four Admirals? And 10 Generals? Oh, and also a former Secretary of the Navy?

Fifteen military leaders wrote to the House and Senate armed services committees this week to urge Members to back legislation to ban companies owned or controlled by the Chinese government from building taxpayer-funded rail cars or buses.

The leaders are particularly concerned about China’s growing dominance in the electric vehicle (EV) sector, writing that China “seeks to gain strategic advantages… by providing aggressive government subsidies to Chinese corporations to lower prices to win business, undermining principles of fair competition and competitive markets.”

They continue:

“If China captures the EV market, the United States’ opportunity to enhance energy security by divorcing itself from an unstable global market merely swaps our reliance on one volatile oil market for a dependence on Beijing for our EVs. Moreover, the infiltration of Chinese technology into the EV sector raises substantial cybersecurity risks that may be difficult to assess and address.”

There’s growing concern on Capitol Hill about China’s role in building U.S. transit, and legislation included in the Defense authorization bill (NDAA) passed by both the Senate and the House before the August recess aims to tackle it.

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Majority of Americans Have An Unfavorable Opinion of China, Pew Study Finds

Jeffrey Bonior Researcher/Writer, AAM

During the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, many Americans were concerned about the nuclear threat posed by communist nations like the Soviet Union (along with the emerging People's Republic of China).

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. The Cold War ended with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the United States largely avoided a similar adversarial relationship with China... perhaps until now.

Military might has given way to a more contemporary type of war – economics – and there is growing consensus that China is emerging as the most serious threat to the United States.

A majority of Americans seem to agree with that assessment.

New data released by the Pew Research Center on Tuesday finds that unfavorable opinions of China have reached a 14-year high. Americans have a 60 percent unfavorable opinion of China, an increase of 13 percent since 2018.

While ongoing trade disputes between the U.S. and China dominate the headlines, it is China's military that has Americans most concerned, as a whopping 81 percent of Americans think China’s growing military power is bad for the United States.

More Americans now view China as an ever-increasing threat the way Russia was feared in the 1960s. Approximately 24 percent of Americans named China as the country that poses the greatest threat to the U.S. in the future, which is double the amount of people who said they were most concerned about China in 2007. China is tied with Russian as the country most cited as a threat to the United States.

Interestingly, Americans aren't opposed to China's economic rise, as more Americans say China's growing economy is more good for the U.S. than bad (50 percent to 41 percent). 

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Union Matters

America’s Wealthy: Ever Eager to Pay Their Taxes!

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Why do many of the wealthiest people in America oppose a “wealth tax,” an annual levy on grand fortune? Could their distaste reflect a simple reluctance to pay their fair tax share? Oh no, JPMorganChase CEO Jamie Dimon recently told the Business Roundtable: “I know a lot of wealthy people who would be happy to pay more in taxes; they just think it’ll be wasted and be given to interest groups and stuff like that.” Could Dimon have in mind the interest group he knows best, Wall Street? In the 2008 financial crisis, federal bailouts kept the banking industry from imploding. JPMorgan alone, notes the ProPublica Bailout Tracker, collected $25 billion worth of federal largesse, an act of generosity that’s helped Dimon lock down a $1.5-billion personal fortune. Under the Elizabeth Warren wealth tax plan, Dimon would pay an annual 3 percent tax on that much net worth. Fortunes between $1 billion and $2.5 billion would face a 5 percent annual tax under the Bernie Sanders plan.

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No Such Thing as Good Greed

No Such Thing as Good Greed