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Secretary Bryson Discusses the Future of U.S. Manufacturing at MIT

There is a powerful link between America’s ability to make things and America’s ability to innovate, compete, and create good jobs, as Secretary John Bryson said today when he spoke to CEOs, students and faculty at “The Future of Manufacturing in the U.S.” conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Secretary took the opportunity to discuss the importance of manufacturing in boosting U.S. economic growth, job creation and exports, as part of the administration's ongoing efforts to encourage companies to build things in America and sell everywhere around the globe.

Bryson also released a new U.S. Commerce Department Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) report titled “The Benefits of Manufacturing Jobs,” an analysis of wages and benefits of manufacturing workers, which provides fresh evidence that manufacturing jobs encourage innovation and support economic security for America’s middle class. The report finds that total hourly compensation for manufacturing workers is 17 percent higher than for non-manufacturing workers. It also shows that manufacturing jobs are becoming more skilled and heavily reliant on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and that manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of our private sector R&D, 90 percent of our patents, and 60 percent of our exports.

After a decade in which the United States lost many manufacturing jobs, American manufacturers have added back 489,000 jobs since January 2010—the best streak since 1995. In the first four months of 2012 alone, the U.S. manufacturing sector added 139,000 jobs. At the same time, the number of job openings in manufacturing has more than doubled. Today, there is much more work to do to build on the positive trends we see, and to create more jobs right here in the United States. First and foremost, we need to build on partnerships that already work to enhance competitiveness and innovation. The Commerce Department is a crucial partner to both universities and large and small manufacturers. That’s why the president has called for an all-of-government, all-of-academia and all-of-industry approach. He launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership and has called for Congress to double the basic research budgets at several agencies, including NIST lab programs, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy Office of Science.

This administration is committed to supporting an environment where U.S. manufacturing can flourish. That means reforming the corporate tax code, attracting more investment to the U.S., and continuing to boost exports. It also means investing in a STEM education to ensure that the United States maintains a workforce with the right skills to fill the thousands of good jobs that are open right now, especially in advanced manufacturing.

Over the course of the next several weeks, leaders throughout the Commerce Department will fan out across the country as part of “Commerce Comes to Your Town,” to ensure that Commerce Department’s tools are highly visible and accessible to all U.S. manufacturers.

Equipped with the tools and support they need, U.S. businesses have the potential to lead the a renaissance in American manufacturing in the years ahead.

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