Whatever a “manufacturing community” is, the Puget Sound region is one of a dozen such announced this week by the Obama administration. The goal is to “revolutionize the way federal agencies leverage economic development funds,” but looking at the details it is clear that this is small ball.
It’s not purely symbolic, but neither is it the kind of robust investment made by China and other competitors. That would never make it through a gridlocked Congress. The program may help focus strategy. What it is unlikely to achieve in any of the locations is a big bump in jobs. The charts below tell the story for the Puget Sound:
However one looks at it, manufacturing jobs have been declining long-term in one of the nation’s most powerful manufacturing and exporting regions. Much of our strength is thanks to Boeing, which benefits from a variety of federal and state largesse. And lest you think this local problem is because of union thugs and SOCIALIST!! policies in the Seattle region, here’s anti-union, “right-to-work” South Carolina’s performance:
The Palmetto State’s textile/apparel manufacturing base was especially devastated by China’s entry into the World Trade Organization and the ending of any tariffs in this sector in the 2000s, despite the efforts of textile baron Roger Milliken.
Don’t misunderstand, if the federal government and partner Puget Sound Partnership can use this program to bolster advanced manufacturing here, it’s so much the better. But different policies would be necessary to arrest the continued loss of well-paying factory jobs, much less see a large return.
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Today’s Econ Haiku:
Bond yields are falling
When people are scared to death
Smart money don’t care