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Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Tracking the Issues: Candidates Focus on Manufacturing Jobs

by Newsteam Staff
March 12, 2012

President Barack Obama tours a factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin February 15, 2012. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters) President Barack Obama tours a factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin February 15, 2012. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters)

Jobs and how to create more of them remain a top issue on the campaign trail. At a Houston campaign stop, President Barack Obama touted last week’s jobs report for February – and plans to continue recovery and a path for the United States to resume its position as a manufacturing and exporting leader.

“[Our] ability to bounce back and then thrive is also going to depend on some choices that we make right now,” he said, ”I strongly believe that we’re going to have to invest in American manufacturing.” Obama cited a nation-wide pilot program designed to connect colleges and universities with manufacturers and businesses to ensure that the country is “innovating and making things and building things right here in America.”

Boosting dwindling manufacturing jobs has also been a focus of GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has said he wants to attract high-paying manufacturing jobs by way of tax incentives. “I’d cut the corporate tax for manufacturing to zero so we’d create a real incentive for people to invest money in the manufacturing sector of the economy,” Santorum told CBS. “I’m not interested in attracting low, sub-minimum wage jobs back to America.”

Congress is attempting to do its part with the House giving bipartisan approval of the Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups bill, or JOBS Act, a legislative package aimed at helping new companies navigate regulations put in place after the 2000 tech-stock bust and kick-starting the market for initial public offerings and other financing for start-ups. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure soon.

CFR’s Renewing America project has also been looking at ways to improve prospects for the U.S. manufacturing sector. Recent blog posts suggest that in addition to the attraction of cheap labor, one of the reasons companies leave and don’t come back is a lack of necessary skills in the U.S. employee pool.

For more on the candidates’ stances, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on the Candidates and the Economy.

Suggested Other Reading:

CFR’s Edward Alden looks at U.S. competitiveness, jobs and what the government can do versus the responsibility of the private sector.

A recent Brookings Institution report looks at how changing demographics will affect the U.S. workforce over the next few years and what it means for the job market. It says that  overcoming the “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment rates, while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month—will take years even with robust job creation.

—Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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