Transportation and Infrastructure

Manufacturers need a modern infrastructure system to compete in a global economy. Strong and reliable infrastructure—from roads and rails to pipelines and broadband—helps manufacturers move materials and products efficiently, and gives our hardworking employees the tools to succeed.

Press Releases

Manufacturers: Build Now for the Post-Pandemic World

When manufacturing is strong, America is strong

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement on President Joe Biden’s infrastructure framework.

“The President’s proposal for historic levels of infrastructure investment reflects many of the investment priorities in the NAM’s ‘Building to Win’ plan, and we look forward to reviewing the details. President Biden’s clear focus on strengthening manufacturing and the workforce of the future shows that he is truly committed to building the next post-pandemic world—one that is stronger and more resilient than in pre-pandemic times.

“Manufacturers have played a leading role in the fight against COVID-19, and we will continue to play a leading role in our economic recovery. When manufacturing is strong, America is strong.

“One thing is clear for our industry, though. Raising taxes on manufacturers would fundamentally undermine our ability to lead this recovery. Our industry fought for decades to achieve a tax system that includes competitive rates and modern international tax provisions. As a result of the 2017 reforms, manufacturers kept our promises: we raised wages and benefits, we hired American workers, and we invested in our communities. Raising taxes on manufacturers here at home would jeopardize all of that and make it more difficult for them to compete in the global economy—putting investment, jobs and livelihoods at risk. We believe strongly in bold infrastructure investment, and we know it can be achieved through a combination of revenue sources like those we identified in the NAM’s ‘Building to Win,’ which includes user fees and bond financing for capital projects. We also know that making the men and women who make things in America pay for the infrastructure projects that will benefit all Americans just doesn’t make sense and would harm their future. Let’s keep moving forward and not turn back the clock to the archaic tax policies that gave other countries an advantage over America.

“To be sure, President Biden’s proposal on infrastructure investment is strong, necessary and welcome. Achieving our shared goals will be the result of debate, discussion and collaboration with the administration and both parties in Congress. We can achieve the President’s investment objectives while holding firm against financing proposals that would severely harm the ability of manufacturers to invest and hire workers here in the U.S. We look forward to engaging with all stakeholders to achieve an outcome that benefits all economic sectors and all Americans.”

Background on manufacturing growth following the enactment of tax reform in 2017:

  • In 2018, manufacturers added 263,000 new jobs. That was the best year for job creation in manufacturing in 21 years.
  • In 2018, manufacturing wages increased 3% and continued going up—by 2.8% in 2019 and by 3% in 2020. Those were the fastest rates of annual growth since 2003.
  • Manufacturing capital spending grew by 4.5% and 5.7% in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
  • Overall, manufacturing production grew 2.7% in 2018, with December 2018 being the best month for manufacturing output since May 2008.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.32 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

NAM Presses FCC for Broadband Support

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As President Biden pushes for a majority of elementary schools to be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office, the Federal Communications Commission is engaged in an important effort to ensure students learning remotely are still connected to their classrooms.

The big shift: The FCC is updating the E-Rate program, which supports broadband access for schools and libraries, to allow funds to be used for at-home learning—and the NAM has advocated for this change.

Why it matters: While President Biden is aiming to send more kids back to school soon, it’s clear that they need more assistance while they are still at home. In addition, high school students may stay home for longer than elementary school kids (due to higher risks of contagion among older students) and thus require longer-term support.

Our view: “Ensuring the FCC’s current programs for schools and libraries are adapting to meet these new remote needs is of critical importance, and the cost of not responding to the changing environment is high,” said NAM Director of Innovation Policy Stephanie Hall in a comment letter to the FCC. “The FCC should coordinate with the Department of Education on necessary revisions to the E-Rate program or to build consensus on new alternatives that can close the digital divide.”

In related news, the FCC held a roundtable last Friday to discuss how to quickly implement the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program—another important initiative for manufacturing communities. Established late last year, the initiative allocates $3.2 billion for discounts on internet service for people who are struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • What it includes: The program offers up to $50 per month for eligible consumers and up to $75 per month for eligible consumers on Tribal Lands. Some eligible participants can also receive discounts on personal computers or laptops.

The last word: As Hall says, “Manufacturers recognize that enhanced broadband investment and the growth of next generation wireless networks are critical both for the current challenges in COVID-19 and to support continued U.S. technological leadership.”

Workforce

Manufacturing Institute Partnership Enhances Railroad’s Hiring Reach

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Union Pacific is seeking a more diverse workforce as it strives to continue “building America,” as it says. To do so, it is partnering with The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s workforce development and education partner, on a $3 million three-year joint initiative. Beth Whited, who serves as executive vice president and chief human resource officer at Union Pacific, recently told us more about these ambitious plans.

The details: The initiative, called Careers on Track, will work to inspire more women and youth to pursue modern industry careers. The funding supports workforce development and career solutions that will include:

  • A new digital STEM curriculum;
  • A virtual STEM experience—in which participants can “choose their own adventure” while exploring interactive 3D models of a real facility, locomotive and more;
  • A STEM micro-grant program for young people; and
  • A digital campaign showcasing industry career opportunities for underserved women in select regions.

Ultimately, Union Pacific intends to double the number of women in the UP workforce within the next 10 years.

Why partnerships matter: “These types of partnerships are important for us because they broaden our reach,” says Whited. “We run pilot programs of our own, but it’s difficult for us to make those available in every school in our served territory. With the MI’s broad reach and established programs, we can reach more women and youth than we could on our own.”

The scope: Whited likes to remind people that nearly everything in their homes moves by rail at some point, whether as a raw material or as a finished product. That also means there is a wide range of jobs involved, from skilled roles in transportation and manufacturing to civil, electrical and computer engineering—jobs that involve designing more fuel-efficient locomotives or building the freight cars of the future.

The tech: “People who don’t know much about railroads are always surprised by the level of high tech that’s employed,” says Whited. “Railroads have been around for 160 years plus, and so people think about it as old technology, but it absolutely isn’t.

  • “You’ve got unbelievable signaling systems run everything safely, next-level optimization tools that determine how and when trains run, sophisticated technology in the 4,500 horsepower locomotives that we use to haul freight and so much more. The level of tech and advanced analytics and machine technology is usually quite startling to people.”

The pitch: Whited has advice for women who are unsure about working in a traditionally male-dominated field. “I would tell people to challenge their own thinking,” says Whited. “There aren’t jobs that are for men and jobs that are for women; there are jobs—and these are great jobs with great benefits that will help you fulfill your goals and give you a sense of pride. Come try it.”

The last word: As MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee said about this partnership, “There are nearly 500,000 job openings right now in manufacturing and millions more expected over the next decade. Closing the gender gap and building awareness with young people are critical to meeting this incredible need.”

Policy and Legal

What Can President Biden Do for Manufacturers?

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The new president’s actions on his first day included some policies that the NAM endorsed and some it didn’t. But thanks to a longstanding and warm relationship with President Biden, the NAM is looking forward to productive conversations with the new administration.

Those conversations now center on a list of executive orders that NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons sent to the transition team—some of which manufacturers support, some of which they want overturned.

Two main ideas: First, the NAM advocated policies that support manufacturing growth in the United States, including some that the previous administration had already put into place.

Second, the NAM advised President Biden to get rid of some policies that violated manufacturers’ most important values, such as individual liberty and equal opportunity.

What’s on the agenda? Here are some of the changes the NAM proposed:

  • Already done: President Biden took action on three EOs yesterday in accordance with the NAM’s recommendations. He reversed the ban on immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries and took steps to provide certainty under the DACA program to people brought to the U.S. as children. In addition, he moved to reverse the ban on diversity trainings.

Here are a few more NAM recommendations that President Biden has not yet acted on:

  • Increasing the number of refugees offered admission to the U.S.—a key component of the compassionate immigration policy that the NAM has long promoted.
  • Reversing the Trump administration’s restriction of nonimmigrant visas, which is hurting manufacturers’ ability to recover from the pandemic.

And here are some policies and programs the NAM is asking President Biden to maintain:

  • The Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure, a crucial instrument for enacting the reforms that manufacturers need.
  • The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, whose members include Timmons. The Board has brought public- and private-sector leaders together to address manufacturers’ greatest long-term problem: the shortage of skilled workers.
  • The Trump administration’s focus on eliminating counterfeits.

The last word: As Timmons put it in his letter to the transition team, “For decades, we have worked with policymakers from across the ideological spectrum to craft policies that encourage the growth of manufacturing in the United States. Now more than ever, America needs leaders in Washington who are focused on increasing American jobs, wages and investment.”

You can read the full list of policy recommendations here.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Outline Executive Action Policy Priorities for Incoming Administration

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers called on President-elect Joe Biden to help ensure the future strength of manufacturing in America by extending key executive orders into the new administration and rescinding those that have harmed manufacturing.

“For decades, we have worked with policymakers from across the ideological spectrum to craft policies that encourage the growth of manufacturing in the United States,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons in a letter to the incoming administration. “Now more than ever, America needs leaders in Washington who are focused on increasing American jobs, wages and investment.”

The letter outlines executive orders that have had a significant impact, positive or negative, on manufacturers over the past four years, and it urges the president-elect “to reverse the most harmful of these orders and keep or expand those that create an environment that is conducive to growing America’s manufacturing sector.”

The NAM’s recommendations will help manufacturers continue to respond to the devastating pandemic and will also power the United States’ economic recovery by setting the stage for manufacturing growth.

To read the full letter, click here.

Background:

The NAM has requested President-elect Biden repeal the following executive orders and consider executive orders for extension.

Executive Orders

Rescind:

  • “Rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program”
  • E.O. 13950 – “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping”
  • E.O. 13672 – “Revocation of Federal Contracting”
  • E.O. 13769 – “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”
  • “President’s Report to Congress on the Proposed Refugee Admissions for FY 21”
  • Presidential Proclamation 10052 – “Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak”
  • E.O. 13944 – “Ensuring Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures and Critical Inputs Are Made in the United States”
  • E.O. 13948 – “Lowering Drug Prices by Putting America First”
  • E.O. 13957 – “Creating Schedule F in the Excepted Service”

Extend:

  • E.O. 13771 – “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”
  • E.O. 13805 – “Establishing a Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure”
  • E.O. 13766 – “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High-Priority Infrastructure Projects”
  • E.O. 13845 – “Continuing the President’s National Council for the American Worker and the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board”
  • E.O. 13932 – “Modernizing and Reforming the Assessment and Hiring of Federal Job Candidates”
  • E.O. 13777 – “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda”
  • E.O. 13806 – “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States”
  • E.O.s – “Strengthening the Federal Government’s Anti-Counterfeiting Efforts”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.32 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 62% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

Congress’s Funding Package: What Manufacturers Should Know

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Congress’s new funding package, which covers COVID-19 relief and much more, will provide Americans with much-needed security during this holiday season. Manufacturers are among the major beneficiaries, as Congress recognized that the sector is essential to keeping our country healthy, fed and functional throughout the pandemic.

The NAM’s policy team reports that legislators closely followed the NAM’s recommendations in a wide variety of policy areas. Here are a few highlights.

The Paycheck Protection Program: This program was reauthorized with $284 billion in new funding and extended through March 31, 2021. It also lets businesses choose when to spend the loans, expands the list of acceptable uses for the loans and simplifies loan forgiveness.

Taxes: The last round of stimulus, called the CARES Act, included a payroll tax credit for “eligible employees” affected by the virus. This new package extends that credit through June 30, 2021, while also upping the percentage from 50% to 70%. Meanwhile, it increases the amount of workers’ pay that qualifies for this tax credit from $10,000 for the year to $10,000 per quarter.

And that’s not it for taxes. This package also extends or makes permanent many other provisions. For example, it extends the deadline by which workers must pay back deferred payroll taxes, while also extending the temporary, refundable tax credit for small and medium-sized employers that are providing required paid leave.

Labor: As you’ve probably read by now, the package gives workers on unemployment $300 per week on top of their state benefits. These payments will last until March 14, 2021.

Vaccines/COVID-19 care: And now for the measures that will help end this pandemic for good. The package includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, making them free for all who need them; $8 billion for vaccine distribution; $20 billion to assist states with testing; and a $20 billion distribution from the existing provider relief fund.

And we’re still not finished . . .

Long-term fixes: Congress also included manufacturing priorities that predate the pandemic and remain absolutely crucial.

  • Energy: This is the big one—the first comprehensive modernization of U.S. energy policy in well over a decade, and an upgrade that the NAM has long fought for. We can’t cover all of its many provisions here, but they include everything from energy storage to nuclear development to carbon capture to renewable energy. It’s a major victory for manufacturers and the NAM.
  • Environment: The legislation also includes a provision for phasing down hydrofluorocarbons—greenhouse gases used in refrigeration. Relatedly, it creates new R&D programs for technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector. Both are high priorities for manufacturers’ sustainability efforts.
  • Anti-counterfeiting measures: These measures are designed to protect manufacturers’ intellectual property, and they include the empowerment of the Federal Trade Commission to take action against bad actors exploiting the pandemic.
  • Transportation: As part of this package, Congress passed the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act, which provides a two-year authorization for ports, inland waterways and important water infrastructure investments.
  • Broadband: And lastly, the package funds the improvement of digital infrastructure and broadband access, including for underserved and rural populations. It also includes a support program for those experiencing hardship due to COVID-19.

What’s missing? Since you ask, the package does not include the liability protections that the NAM advocated. But the NAM will continue working on this priority next year.

The last word: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said of the legislation, “Some are stirring up controversy over aspects of the spending text to drum up ratings or score political points. But the bottom line is manufacturers—and all Americans—need relief now. This package gives manufacturers and many other Americans a lifeline in the face of the disaster this pandemic continues to wreak on lives and livelihoods. There is unfinished work for sure. But it makes no sense to hold up an action that can bring real relief to this country.”

You can read a more expansive list of policy wins here.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Secure Priorities in Year-End Stimulus Legislation

Stoick: “We have been fully engaged with House and Senate leaders to keep this vital work going"

Washington, D.C. – Following passage of Senate amendment to H.R. 133 – United States Mexico Economic Partnership Act [Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021], National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Government Relations Jordan Stoick released the following statement:

“Manufacturers secured many of our top priorities in this important legislation, including numerous provisions the NAM first proposed in our ‘American Renewal Action Plan.’ The additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program will provide a continued lifeline for small manufacturers. Furthermore, the resources for testing and vaccine distribution, as well as tax incentives for manufacturers that keep employees on payroll and invest in safety measures, will ensure America’s dedicated, essential manufacturing workers can continue their mission safely.

“Across the country, manufacturers are providing the vaccines, PPE and supplies needed to defeat COVID-19, so we have been fully engaged with House and Senate leaders to keep this vital work going. We have a difficult winter ahead, and this legislation will help save lives and livelihoods and keep manufacturers operating. As folks continue to roll up their sleeves and receive initial doses of the vaccine, we are also looking to the other priorities facing us in the new year—including historic investments in infrastructure, energy innovation and more—to ensure manufacturers can lead a full economic recovery and American renewal.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.2 million men and women, contributes $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 62% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Ready to Build American Infrastructure Back Better

Washington, D.C. – Following President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to be Secretary of Transportation, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“Manufacturers congratulate former Mayor Pete Buttigieg on his nomination to lead the Transportation Department. He hails from a manufacturing state, so he knows the critical role our industry plays in our economic recovery. And for our country to recover—to ‘build back better’ as President-elect Biden says—we absolutely need to see infrastructure investment of historic proportion.

“From roads and bridges to waterways, electric grids and 5G technology, the future of modern manufacturing depends on the strength of our infrastructure. America should be leading the world in modern infrastructure, not falling behind, so we look forward to working with Secretary-designate Buttigieg to achieve the goals manufacturers have laid out in our ‘Building to Win’ plan.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.2 million men and women, contributes $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 62% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

Rural America Needs Better Broadband

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With so many people working from home, access to high-speed internet has become more important than ever, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription). Still, some people—and particularly those living in rural areas—continue to struggle to connect.

Some higher speeds: On average, internet speeds have gotten faster. According to data from WhistleOut, which compares broadband and wireless internet plans, home internet speeds across the United States have increased from an average of 84.9 megabits per second in March to 94.6 megabits per second in July. The minimum broadband service speed, according to the FCC, is 25 megabits per second.

A few rough patches: Still, plenty of people are being left out. A study from Microsoft suggests that up to 150 million people across the country have slow or unreliable internet connections.

Why it matters: Broadband doesn’t just make it possible to work from home; it’s also important for COVID-19 response measures like contact tracing.

The NAM’s angle: In April, the National Association of Manufacturers released the “American Renewal Action Plan,” which calls for historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure, including digital infrastructure, to spur economic renewal and competitiveness. The NAM’s “Building to Win” strategy also includes a focus on broadband buildout along with other forms of infrastructure critical for manufacturing.

The word from NAM: “Connectivity was already a key issue for manufacturers before this crisis as they embraced digital transformation,” said NAM Director of Innovation Policy Stephanie Hall. “The importance of universal broadband for our industry and communities is even clearer now as we turn to technology solutions for work, school and nearly every aspect of daily life.”

Policy and Legal

How Trade Route Shifts Are Affecting Ports

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West Coast ports are being impacted by changing trade patterns, losing imports to the East Coast and Canada, among other competitors, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription). Some of that shift began in 2017, after infrastructure work made it possible for larger vessels to use the Port of New York and New Jersey. Meanwhile, West Coast ports aiming to move goods east must use networks of trains and trucks that run on crumbling U.S. infrastructure.

The breakdown: Ports on the West Coast took in less than 40% of seaborne imports during the first seven months of the year, with ports on the East Coast racking up a little bit more than half.

  • Asian imports are still leaning to the West Coast, but the makeup is beginning to change. Last year, Los Angeles moved 9.4 million containers compared to 7.5 million containers for New York and New Jersey. Still, the New York/New Jersey East Coast port did become the second-busiest port in the country, bumping Long Beach, California, out of the runner-up spot.
  • Canadian ports are also getting into the game, offering cheaper transportation services that undercut U.S. costs.

Related: West Coast freight networks—including railroads and trucks—are struggling to handle demand after limiting personnel and operations in the face of COVID-19, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

The NAM’s angle: The NAM has urged Congress for years to enact infrastructure reform, laying out its priorities in its “Building to Win” blueprint.

Most recently, during United for Infrastructure (formerly Infrastructure Week), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke to NAM members at an event co-hosted by Nucor Steel about Congress’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of infrastructure investment. During the event the senator noted, “The most sustainable path forward on surface transportation authorization is a one-year extension of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.”

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