The manufacturing economy has received a round of heavy attention in recent days, well-deserved, of course.
At NewGeography.com, Joel Kotkin reports, "Heavy Metal Is Back: The Best Cities For Industrial Manufacturing": "Boosted by productivity gains and higher costs in competitors, including China, U.S. manufacturing exports have grown at their fastest rate since the late 1980s. In 2011 American manufacturing continued to expand, while Germany, Japan and Brazil all weakened in this vital sector." Houston emerged as the best city to engage in manufacturing:
Houston’s industrial success owes much to the city’s massive port and booming energy sector, says Bill Gilmer, senior economist at the Federal Reserve office of Dallas. “Houston is about energy — it’s about fabricated metals and machinery,” he says. “It’s oil service supply and petrochemicals. It’s all paced by a high price of oil and new technology that makes it more accessible.”
This shift towards domestic energy augurs well for a huge and economically beneficial shift in America’s longer term economic prospects, he points out. Cheap natural gas, for example, makes petrochemical production in America more competitive than anyone could have imagined a decade ago. Linkages with Mexico in terms of energy as well as autos has made Texas — which is also home to No. 4 ranked San Antonio and No. 15 ranked Dallas — the nation’s primary export super-power, with current shipment 15% to 20% above pre-crisis levels.
Reuters tells of the decision-making that led Procter & Gamble to keeping making top-of-the-line razors in a city most do not consider a manufacturing mecca -- Boston. From "Manufacturing can thrive but struggles for respect":
The factory, which employs about 700 people in manufacturing as well as another 800 in design, engineering and management, is an anomaly in modern America - a manufacturing site in one of most expensive cities in the country.
But to Gillette's parent company, Procter & Gamble, Boston is an ideal base not only for making Fusion and Mach 3 razors, but to produce machines that assemble Gillette products around the world: After a century of making razors at the site, the company has a critical mass of experienced workers.
At Forbes, reporter John Bruner amasses charts to demonstrate manufacturing's resurgence, although increased productivity obviates the need for many new factory workers. From "U.S. Manufacturing Surges Ahead--But Don't Look for a Factory Job":
Over the last three decades, American factories have become vastly more productive in terms of output per hour of labor. U.S. manufacturers now produce three and a half times more output per worker hour than they did in the peak employment year of 1979, in part because offshoring has sent many low-value jobs overseas, but also because automation has replaced lots of factory jobs. These gains in productivity have been most pronounced during recessions, when manufacturers tend to lay off workers and then replace them with machines as the economy grows again and demand increases.
President Obama named new Commerce Secretary John Bryson and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling as co-chairmen of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy. Last Thursday, Secretary Bryson visited the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to lay out his vision for the department. From the news release: "In his remarks, Bryson outlined his top three priorities to help American businesses 'Build it here and sell it everywhere, focusing on supporting advanced manufacturing, increasing our exports and attracting more investment to America from all over the world.
Excellent goals. Let's hope the policies correlate.
This article was published by Carter Wood on December 19, 2011 in
Motion to proceed to consideration of S. 744, #immigration bill, passes Senate by 84-15. Getting right into amendments.
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