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How to Revitalize U.S. Manufacturing

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How to Revitalize U.S. Manufacturing Nine policies that could spark new growth in factory jobs and the economic benefits they bring By Bob Tita June 7, 2016 10:05 p.m. ET   After a long decline, manufacturing is returning to the U.S. Now it may be time for U.S. policy makers to give it an extra boost.   The U.S. shed 5.7 million manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010—more than a third of the manufacturing workforce—as companies abandoned plants and workers in favor of low-cost foreign countries. But in recent years, manufacturing employment has grown slightly as the auto industry rebounded and domestic plants became more cost-competitive with those of other countries where manufacturing expenses have escalated because of higher wages.   Now researchers, politicians and business leaders are coming forward with strategies to accelerate job gains and investment in manufacturing. Their ideas range from pruning regulations that raise the cost and effort of running a manufacturing operation to imposing a value-added tax on imports to beefing up training programs so companies have an easier time finding skilled workers.   Reviving the manufacturing sector won’t be easy—but, these advocates argue, it’s crucial. Manufacturing is one of the best generators of wealth for an economy, requiring processes, materials and work skills that create employment and profits at each step in an assembly. Countries that don’t make anything eventually start to lose their edge in research and product development.   “Manufacturing and design drive each other,” says Steven Schmid, an aerospace and mechanical engineering professor at the University of Notre Dame. “If you lose one, you’ll lose the other, too.”   The U.S.’s reliance on foreign-made goods provides a conduit for trillions of dollars to leave the country. The U.S. trade deficit—the difference between what is imported and what the U.S. exports—amounted to $500 billion, or about 3% of total U.S. GDP last year.   That money is used by foreign investors to purchase assets in the U.S., such as real estate or stocks, or to lend to Americans who are increasingly willing to become debt-saddled consumers. Left unchecked, the trade deficit will continue to soak up the country’s wealth and manufacturing know-how, with little more than IOUs to show for it.   Here’s a look at some of the proposed strategies for getting U.S. manufacturing back on track. Make exports more valuable   Under a plan promoted by investor Warren Buffett, companies that export goods from the U.S. would accumulate certificates equal to the value of their exports. But companies that wanted to import goods would have to purchase certificates from exporters.   The certificates, the thinking goes, would create two desired reactions. U.S. exporters, with a cash cushion from the sale of their certificates, could offer U.S.-made goods to foreign customers at lower prices, making them more competitive and shrinking the trade deficit over time. Meanwhile, foreign-made items imported into the U.S. would become more expensive to reflect the cost of import certificates, making U.S.-made goods more cost competitive with cheap imports.   As exports increase, though, more certificates would flow into the market, and their cost for importers would fall. The price could eventually slip to zero if a trade surplus was achieved.   The appeal of this approach: It’s a more decisive way to knock down the trade deficit than waiting for U.S. exports to become more desirable over time, perhaps from a weaker dollar. And unlike standard tariffs, which typically penalize a specific product from a particular country, the certificates provide a direct and immediate benefit to U.S. companies that export.   The downside, initially at least, is that Americans would face higher prices for imported consumer items. So, the plan would likely be a tough sell in Washington. Impose a value-added tax   A similar idea for lowering the trade deficit is imposing a value-added tax. The tax, which is used by more than 130 countries, is applied to each step along a production chain as a product or material increases in value or is consumed. How does this help domestic... Read More

The Future Looks Bright for Machinists

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Machinists use machining tools that are manually controlled or use computer numerical controls (CNC). These tools can include lathes, grinders, and milling machines to produce high-precision metal parts. The parts can range from basic bolts made from steel or brass and titanium screws for orthopedic implants to hydraulics, automobile pistons, and even anti-lock brakes. Job opportunities for machinist graduates are vast. It’s an area of the industry that’s in high demand and businesses are always searching for trades workers who are trained to use the technology but have roots in the basics of manual work and make safety a priority. Machinists jobs include working from sketches, blueprints, or computer-aided design (CAD) or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files. They set up and tear down CNC machine tools; they also oversee installation and alignment as well as secure and adjust all cutting tools and work pieces. Their work also involves monitoring the feed and speed of the machines. As machinists, they’re responsible for milling, drilling, shaping, and grinding machine parts to exact specifications. The machinist job also entails examining and testing finished pieces for defects and make certain that all products meet that particular job’s specifications. Because machining technology is in a constant state of flux, machinists must learn how to operate a wide array of machines and, as engineers create new machining tools, must familiarize themselves with new machining techniques and procedures. There are many paths to becoming a skilled machinist, but as the trade itself evolves, so does the training needed. Courses result in several different levels of qualification, from a certification all the way up to an associate of applied sciences degree. The training can take anywhere from two semesters to two years to complete, depending on the time commitment and level of education the student desires. Once the formal training program is complete, a machinist still needs years of experience to be considered highly skilled at this particular trade. Machinist jobs are experiencing a growth in demand, due to a lack of experienced trades workers. This particular field is expected to experience a growth of 7% from 2010 to 2020, although it is already considered a job that’s high in demand in almost every state in the U.S. With proper training, entry-level machinists can expect to make anywhere from $10 to $12 an hour, while more experienced machinists can expect a salary of $22 an hour or more. Why choose Diversified Industrial Staffing to help you find your next job? Our unique approach is all about you. Rather than taking a job description and trying to fill it, we market you and your skills to the best employers. Regardless if you are a Machinist, CNC Machinist, CNC Programmer or other highly skilled industrial worker, Diversified Industrial Staffing can help match you to the right opportunity in the right location quicker and more accurately than anyone... Read More

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