Press Releases

Manufacturers: WTO/TRIPS Waiver Will Not Solve Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Following the announcement by the United States Trade Ambassador that the Biden administration will support waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“We are all horrified by the images that we are seeing in India and in other places around the world hard-hit by COVID-19. The proposed WTO/TRIPS waiver would not solve this crisis and would exacerbate the core manufacturing and distribution challenges, as well as introduce serious new safety concerns.

“Rather than rushing to suspend critical protections and standards, investing in even greater production capacity would result in expanded vaccine access. Pharmaceutical manufacturers continue to work around the clock to help the world get armed against COVID-19. We should do everything possible to build on that heroic work, not undermine the protections that make this innovation possible in the first place.”

-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 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.33 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.

Workforce

2.1 Million Manufacturing Jobs Could Go Unfilled by 2030

Get the Latest News

sign up here

The manufacturing skills gap in the U.S. could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030, according to a new study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the NAM. The cost of those missing jobs could potentially total $1 trillion in 2030 alone.

The study’s dramatic findings come from online surveys of more than 800 U.S.-based manufacturing leaders, as well as interviews with executives across the industry and economic analyses. All told, they paint a worrying picture of manufacturing’s labor shortage. The lack of skilled labor was the industry’s major challenge even before the pandemic, according to the NAM’s quarterly outlook surveys—and this new study shows it’s still a major concern today.

The hard data: About 1.4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost during the early days of the pandemic, according to the study, setting back the manufacturing labor force by more than a decade. However, the industry has largely recovered those lost jobs and is now urgently seeking more workers.

  • While the manufacturing industry recouped 63% of jobs lost during the pandemic, the remaining 570,000 had not been added back by the end of 2020, despite a near record number of job openings in the sector.

The inside scoop: Manufacturers surveyed reported that finding the right talent is now 36% harder than it was in 2018, even though the unemployment rate has nearly doubled the supply of available workers.

  • Executives reported they cannot even fill higher paying entry-level production positions, let alone find and retain skilled workers for specialized roles.
  • A long-term challenge: 77% of manufacturers say they will have ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers in 2021 and beyond.

A bright spot: Fortunately, the study found that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives exert a growing influence on workforce trends and can help manufacturers fill these empty jobs. Manufacturers have more work to do to attract larger numbers of women and diverse workers to the industry, and the Institute is leading an industry-wide effort to close the opportunity gap.

Deloitte says: “Given the foundational role the manufacturing sector plays in our nation’s economy, it is deeply concerning that at a time when jobs are in such high demand nationwide, the number of vacant entry-level manufacturing positions continues to grow,” said Paul Wellener, Deloitte vice chairman and U.S. industrial products and construction leader. “Attracting and retaining diverse talent presents both a challenge and solution to bridging the talent gap. To attract a new generation of workers, the industry should work together to change the perception of work in manufacturing and expand and diversify its talent pipeline.”

The Institute says: “Manufacturers are proud to lead efforts to build stronger, more diverse and inclusive workplaces because we are committed to being the solution,” said Carolyn Lee, executive director of the Institute. “As we expand our programs at The Manufacturing Institute, and work with the National Association of Manufacturers on initiatives like our Creators Wanted campaign and tour, we’re making sure that Americans of all backgrounds in all states can find a home in manufacturing and get equipped with the skills to seize these opportunities.”

Business Operations

How a Manufacturer Left Landfills Behind

Get the Latest News

Sign up here

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems sends almost none of its waste to landfills. A manufacturer of safety, air management and braking system technologies, the company cut its energy use by 14 million kilowatt-hours over the past six years. And it’s now building a 1.168-megawatt solar array near its Indiana facility.

That’s only the start for the Ohio-based manufacturer. In the past few years, Bendix has become a leader in sustainable manufacturing, adding sustainable design to its buildings and emphasizing sustainability in everything from employee training to production. The company has also been recognized for its achievements: In April 2020, Bendix received an award for “environmental excellence” from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and recently the company won an award from the U.S. Department of Energy for its outstanding energy management.

“Even during a year when many activities had to be modified, curtailed or held remotely, our team members stayed true to our sustainability mission and to our overall energy strategy,” said Bendix Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Maria Gutierrez.

So how did they do it?  

What it takes: “Our approach is built on a hierarchy that calls for each location to first eliminate, then reduce, reuse, recycle and reclaim—and as a final option when these strategies are not available, to utilize waste-to-energy technologies or incineration,” said Bendix Corporate Manager of Environmental and Sustainability Bill Schubert.

  • The entire company sent fewer than 16 tons of material to landfills in 2020, a 97% decrease from the 508 tons in 2019.
  • Bendix has done everything from eliminating plastic water bottles and Styrofoam to conducting “spent material audits”—more commonly known as dumpster dives—to ensure recyclables don’t go to waste.
  • Its 4,100 employees are also chipping in: worker-led teams coordinate “green” projects, which continued even during the pandemic.

What’s next: At its Huntington, Indiana, manufacturing campus, Bendix is constructing a solar array that is expected to be operational in September 2021. It will produce more than 30% of the site’s electricity requirements and is slated to save $140,000 in utilities annually.

  • Bendix also aims to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 across its entire North American operations. The larger goal: to be entirely carbon neutral by 2050.

The last word: “Taking a creative approach to addressing challenging waste and improving energy efficiency remained a key theme for Bendix during all of 2020, and our efforts certainly paid off,” said Gutierrez. “Now, we’re focused on the next steps of our long-term energy plans, which are just as exciting.”

Policy and Legal

A Bottleneck at California Ports Squeezes Manufacturers

Get the Latest News

Sign up here

The ship stuck in the Suez Canal may have gotten all the attention, but it wasn’t the biggest shipping problem of the year. That honor goes to the massive traffic jam at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which has dragged on since late 2020.

As NAM Director of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy Ben Siegrist tells us, this bottleneck is a huge problem for manufacturers in the U.S.—one that is costing our economy many billions of dollars. Dozens of ships are waiting in the harbor for days before they are able to unload, exporters are struggling to get their goods out of the country, and other manufacturers are waiting months for parts or finished goods to arrive.

The problem: The numbers tell the tale: at one point in mid-April, there were 23 ships waiting to dock at the ports, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription), down from around 40 back in February. For comparison, Siegrist explains, the normal number of ships waiting in harbor is somewhere between 0 and 1.

Why it’s happening: Much of the congestion results from the pandemic—there has been an uptick in e-commerce during the lockdowns, and the economic stimulus has boosted consumption. Meanwhile, the typical increase in shipments during the holiday season just made things worse.

However, other factors are making this congestion particularly hard to fix, says Siegrist. These include:

  • A shortage of shipping containers: First of all, shippers don’t have enough containers in the absolute for all of these goods. But in addition, some of them are finding it cheaper to unload in the U.S. and then send the empty containers back to Asia—to the disadvantage of U.S. manufacturers that want to load those containers with exports.
  • A shortage of chassis: The trucks that transport containers to warehouses require special chassis to move the containers, but the ports also don’t have enough of these.
  • A labor shortage: Like many other Americans, port workers had to deal with COVID-19 infections or exposures as well as cope with family responsibilities during the pandemic.

Logistical complications: Meanwhile, the logistics of international shipping are incredibly complicated, Siegrist explains. There are fewer ocean carriers today—only nine, down from more than 20 a few decades ago—which means manufacturers have fewer competitive shipping options. And the complex relationships between the multiple carriers, port operators and equipment owners are not easy to disentangle or control.

What do we do? Thanks in large part to the complexity of international shipping, there’s no easy answer, says Siegrist. Right now, the NAM is in discussions with the many federal agencies involved in international commerce, including the Department of Transportation, the Department of Commerce, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and a lesser known but vital agency called the Federal Maritime Commission. “We’re trying to create opportunities for our members to have a dialogue with policymakers,” says Siegrist.

  • The eventual policy options might range from fines or fees for international carriers to legislative updates to the 1984 Shipping Act.
  • It will also be important to strengthen the domestic supply chain for equipment like containers—almost none of which are now made in the U.S. The NAM is “talking more holistically about supply chains with the Biden administration,” notes Siegrist.

Stay tuned: The FMC will release its investigation into pandemic-related shipping delays in the coming weeks.

Business Operations

How One Manufacturer Inactivates COVID-19

Get the Latest News

Sign up here

When COVID-19 upended their operations, LumenFocus—a manufacturer of LED light fixtures—saw an opportunity to be of service. It quickly pivoted to developing products that inactivate viruses and kill bacteria with certain UV wavelengths, called UVC wavelengths. These products, which may be used in businesses, schools and hospitals, can make shared environments safer for everyone.

The company’s new solutions also caught the attention of the military. Recently, the Department of Defense awarded LumenFocus a significant portion of a $2.3 million contract to develop a prototype for military operations. LumenFocus President and CEO Charles Kassay said after the announcement, “As an American company, we are thrilled at the opportunity to be developing products to help our servicemen and servicewomen.”

So how did LumenFocus come up with these virus-inactivating fixtures?

How they did it: Before the pandemic, LumenFocus had only manufactured LED light fixtures. But when COVID-19 hit, the company directed its R&D teams to research solutions for eradicating pathogens like COVID-19.

  • “We knew about ultraviolet light and its potential for disinfection, but it wasn’t an avenue we had traversed before,” says Marketing Coordinator Eric Robinson. “Once we understood the science behind UV, we combined this with our knowledge and experience in engineering light fixtures, and our fabrication capabilities, to create products for pathogen eradication.”

What they’re making: LumenFocus speedily developed a range of products that offer different means of sanitization for different customers’ needs. Some include:

  • The new PathogenFocus product line: These products use nonthermal plasma technology for continuous air and surface disinfection in buildings, either in conjunction with existing HVACs or as standalone units. They have been scientifically proven to reduce up to 99.99% of common pathogens (including bacteria and viruses) quickly and effectively, according to the company.
  • Direct UVC units for unoccupied rooms: These products are intended for unoccupied spaces, as they provide a high dosage of UVC to eradicate pathogens quickly. The UVC fixtures can be ceiling mounted or recessed into grid ceilings.
  • Germicidal upper air units: These fixtures can be used in occupied spaces, as the UVC treats only the upper zone in the room, not the lower zone where people are. As the air circulates, it flows into the plane of UVC irradiation, where the pathogens are killed or inactivated.
  • A portable UVC Tower that can be wheeled around to unoccupied rooms, such as classrooms or offices, and which uses a higher dose of UVC to eradicate viruses and bacteria in a very short time.

The last word: As Kassay says, “The LumenFocus team has been tirelessly working on ways to implement pathogen-eradicating technology. Lighting is just one area where we can help—and that’s an area where we have a lot of experience. Our goal is to develop solutions that will help Americans get back to work in safer, healthier environments. And, if a similar unfortunate situation like COVID-19 arises in the future, we hope that these solutions can help us fight it.”

Press Releases

Manufacturers React to President Biden’s First Speech to Congress

Timmons: “Manufacturers are focused on building the next, post-pandemic world.”

Washington, D.C. – Following President Joe Biden’s first presidential address to Congress, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released this statement:

“Thanks to the leadership of vaccine manufacturers and the Biden administration’s successful vaccine distribution efforts, Americans are getting back to the activities and the people they love. Though the capacity limits in the House chamber tonight remind us that we still have a long way to go, our future is looking brighter.

“We look forward to working with President Biden to achieve historic infrastructure investment, including the many priorities offered in our ‘Building to Win’ plan, which, in addition to identifying areas of investment, also provides multiple funding solutions.

“Manufacturers have also provided roadmaps on critical issues ranging from immigration to climate change. We’re ready to work with President Biden and members of any party to deliver bipartisan progress on these issues and more, all while ensuring we’re strengthening the manufacturing workforce, not jeopardizing manufacturing growth in the United States.

“To that point, raising taxes on manufacturers—including many small businesses that pay at the individual rate—would stop our recovery in its tracks; we would lose 1 million jobs in just the first two years alone. Small manufacturers would be especially hard hit at this critical juncture, restricting their ability to raise wages and benefits, hire more workers and invest in their communities. Similarly, changes to the longstanding tax rules on the transfer of family businesses to the next generation of manufacturers would cost American jobs.

“Returning to archaic tax policies and one of the highest business tax rates in the developed world is not the way to build our future, nor are federal policies to force workers to join a union. Anti-worker policies like the PRO Act would inject uncertainty by driving a wedge in established employee–employer relationships and curtail future manufacturing investments that support our communities and families.

“As we continue to get armed against COVID-19, manufacturers are focused on building the next, post-pandemic world—one that affords even greater opportunity for all Americans.”

Background:

The NAM continues to put forward commonsense proposals to educate and inform policymakers on ways to strengthen manufacturing in America while achieving our shared objectives.

-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 12.3 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 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.

Business Operations

How Small Manufacturers Can Use Cutting-Edge Tech

Get the Latest News

Sign up here

As manufacturing goes through digital transformation, small to medium-sized manufacturers have just as much opportunity to reimagine their operations as large businesses. And to help these companies think through their options, the NAM and Stanley Black & Decker got together to host a Creators Wanted virtual session on making use of “Industry 4.0” technologies.

Who participated: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Stanley Black & Decker CEO Jim Loree spoke at the event. Other business leaders and government officials, including Connecticut Business & Industry Association President and CEO Chris DiPentima, also joined the session.

Inside Manufacturing 4.0: “All of us want to be a part of Manufacturing 4.0, a fourth Industrial Revolution in manufacturing, powered by digital and smart technology,” said Timmons. “There’s literally no business that can’t benefit from tapping into digital transformation. And today’s event is about demonstrating that keeping your business state of the art, on the cutting edge, is truly easier than you think.”

Why now? U.S. manufacturing is at a pivotal moment and will play a central part in the ongoing economic recovery. Adopting digital tools should be a part of the strategy, according to Loree.

  • “As every one of us strives to put the health challenges of the pandemic in the rearview mirror, we all have a responsibility to assist with the economic recovery that must follow,” he said. “Manufacturing must and will play a critical role, and we can supercharge it.”

Getting started: One key tool under discussion was the Smart Industry Readiness Index Assessment, a comprehensive technology evaluation and independent review that can help businesses modernize.

  • Bead Industries CEO Jill Mayer said at the event that what she needs as an executive is a snapshot of the current technology landscape and an understanding of her company’s future needs. That’s what a SIRI assessment can deliver.
  • The assessment, which takes roughly two days, can help identify technology gaps and inefficiencies, while also helping companies create structured plans for purchasing equipment. The reviews are conducted by certified assessors who understand manufacturing and can help businesses through this key transition.

A broader landscape: In addition to individual innovations and technology, Stanley Black & Decker Chief Technology Officer of Global Operations Sudhi Bangalore cited the importance of innovation and economic manufacturing ecosystems.

  • A strong innovation ecosystem can include government experts, upskilling programs, a thriving community of small and medium-sized enterprises and more, according to Bangalore.
  • Gov. Lamont added that Connecticut is home to one such ecosystem and cited manufacturing education as a crucial area where government and industry can work together to grow the economy.

Closing thoughts: “I would consider this next year an extraordinary opportunity as we change the way we do business in state government and what we do in manufacturing,” said Gov. Lamont.

To watch the whole session, click here.

Policy and Legal

NAM Pitches Infrastructure Funding Solutions

Get the Latest News

Sign up here

Though most policymakers agree that America needs to invest in its aging infrastructure, they disagree about how to pay for it. The NAM has its own recommendations on the best way to reform infrastructure funding and spend infrastructure dollars. NAM Director of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy Ben Siegrist recently spoke to us about that plan.

The big idea: The manufacturing industry not only depends on infrastructure to support its supply chains and operations, but in many cases helps to build that infrastructure and employs the people who put it all together. That’s why the NAM has called on policymakers to upgrade our roads, bridges and much more in its “Building to Win” plan, which includes a comprehensive list of infrastructure fixes.

The hitch: The Biden administration has called for increased taxes on corporations to pay for new infrastructure projects and other broad recovery programs, which would make it more difficult for manufacturers to grow. To avoid such a harmful policy, the NAM has been working on alternative funding options, says Siegrist. These include:

  • Private investment: Private-sector and industry investment through public infrastructure bonds and municipal infrastructure bonds offers an opportunity for the government and industry to work together. It will allow the industry to access funds with appropriate municipal oversight and creates a system of both shared risk and shared benefits.
  • National infrastructure bank: Under this proposal, an institution backed by federal dollars would share some of the risk of infrastructure investment, while providing much-needed capital for the development of projects with public benefit. As private industry draws loans from the bank, it can take on the risk, with revenue going back to the infrastructure bank’s coffers for future development opportunities.
  • User fees: The NAM has proposed different ways to update the user fee model, which lets users of surface transportation systems pay their fair share. These updates might include an increase in the fuel tax that is indexed to inflation, or a vehicle-miles-traveled tax that allows people to pay for their specific use of roads and other infrastructure.

The last word: “The only way the economy is going to grow is by having more efficient systems than we have now. ‘Building to Win’ offers a real opportunity for bipartisan cooperation without imposing harmful taxes on businesses,” said Siegrist. “We will continue to convey that message to the Hill. This will be a long process, and we intend to work with the administration and with our members to make sure manufacturers get the support that they need.”

Business Operations

How Tax Reform Helped Optimax Invest in Workers

Get the Latest News

Sign up here

After the passage of tax reform in 2017, the lower corporate tax rate and faster tax depreciation of capital equipment purchases enabled Optimax Systems—a manufacturer specializing in optics for semiconductor, aerospace and defense technologies—to reinvest in its workers and operations.

Hiring new workers: Since 2018, the New York manufacturer has hired aggressively, increasing its full-time headcount from 290 to 340. It has also raised salaries for employees, with an average annual increase of 4.8% since 2017—well above the company’s annual increases before 2017. Optimax sees the increases in hiring and wages as a vote of confidence in its workforce—and as a way to pay forward the benefits of tax reform.

Expanding their operations: Since 2018, Optimax has doubled the size of its manufacturing facility, increasing the space from 60,000 square feet to 120,000 square feet. The company also increased investment in equipment, boosting its annual investment from an average of roughly $3 million per year between 2014 and 2017 to an annualized rate of more than $7 million per year since 2018.

What we’re doing: To support companies like Optimax and its customers, the NAM is leading the effort to ensure that the tax code continues to incentivize growth, as well as working to make manufacturers’ priorities and concerns known to the Biden administration and lawmakers. For companies like Optimax, maintaining the competitive tax rate is critical, which is why the NAM is vocal about the potential harm of tax hikes.

The costs of tax hikes: A new study conducted by Rice University economists for the NAM found that increasing the corporate tax rate along with other harmful tax changes could lead to 1 million fewer jobs in the first two years.

  • “As we slowly emerge from the economic catastrophe caused by COVID-19, American businesses are at a pivotal point in our nation’s history,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Manufacturers can, and should, lead the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic. But this study tells us quantitatively what manufacturers from coast to coast will tell you qualitatively: increasing the tax burden on companies in America means fewer American jobs.”

The last word: “Optimax has a mission of enabling customer success and employee prosperity. We have learned, through 30 years of experience, that there is no better way to do this than to reinvest our profits back into the business and back into our people,” said Optimax Controller Tom Starin. “Tax reform has freed up an additional piece of the profit pie, allowing the company to double down, quite literally, on our mission of enabling customer success and employee prosperity.”

Press Releases

Timmons: Climate Change Is an Issue Our Generation Must Tackle

“Meeting President’s pledge will require manufacturing might and innovation”

Washington, D.C. – Following President Joe Biden’s announcement on the 2030 greenhouse gas pollution reduction target, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“Climate change is an issue our generation must tackle. Like past generational challenges—world wars, the space race, the COVID-19 response and vaccine development—manufacturers will lead the way and ensure our country emerges stronger. After all, it is manufacturers who will make the needed products and technologies—clean energy, carbon capture, batteries, microgrids, efficiency, advanced vehicles and more.

“The President’s goal is bold, to be sure. But when have Americans ever been timid in the face of difficulty? We look forward to learning more specific details of the administration’s plan, and manufacturers are ready to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to achieve success for our nation and world. As we explain in ‘The Promise Ahead,’ manufacturers’ plan for taking action on climate, we believe that a unified federal policy combined with an equitable and enforceable international agreement is key.

“Meeting President Biden’s ambitious pledge will require manufacturing might and innovation, which means we will also need policies that keep manufacturing strong and competitive—historic infrastructure investment; a tax code that continues to promote investment, job creation and research and development; a diverse and reliable energy supply; incentives for workforce development; and more opportunities to export our innovative products and technologies to other countries. And as manufacturers rise to meet this challenge, the rest of the economy will prosper because for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $2.79 is added to the economy—the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.

“Manufacturing holds the key to solving this global challenge. Confronting climate change will not be easy. But with the right policies, it is neither the first nor the last challenge that manufacturing ingenuity will solve.”

Background: Today, President Biden announced a new target for the United States to achieve a 50–52% reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030, building on progress to date and by positioning American workers and industry to tackle the climate crisis.

Earlier this year, the NAM released “The Promise Ahead,” its policy roadmap on addressing climate change.

-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 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.33 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.

View More