Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, has introduced legislation along with fellow Democrat Senator Tom Harkin he says is designed to spur growth in manufacturing jobs. “In the late 1970’s almost 20-million Americans were deployed directly in manufacturing and that was 20-percent of the non-farm workforce. Today, less than 12-million Americans are employed directly in manufacturing and that represents only nine-pecent of all workers,” Braley says.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a different way of looking at that loss and says there are 62-thousand fewer manufacturing facilities in the United States than there were a decade ago.” Braley has announced he is running for the Senate after Harkin announced he would retire in 2014.
He says Harkin’s role on the appropriations committee, and Iowa Congressman Tom Latham’s on the House Appropriations Committee could help with the funding for the “Rebuild American Manufacturing Act.” But Braley says he has not talked with Republicans about the issue yet.
“No, quite frankly with all of the other budget and fiscal concerns being discussed in Congress right now, there will be a time and place to do that,” Braley says.
The bill would require the president to identify areas and emerging technologies in the U.S. where manufacturing could grow. It would also require the president to survey and compare manufacturing policies in the U.S. to those of other countries, and to recommend policies and actions to Congress to support American manufacturing.
The use of technology has led to the loss of some manufacturing jobs, but Braley says more importantly it has required those who get manufacturing jobs to have more highly skilled training. “So it’s change the nature of the workforce but it certainly hasn’t change the demand for those types of products and materials, and that’s why the alarming loss of those manufacturing facilities is something we need to be concerned about,” according to Braley.
Braley says the United States is one of the only developed nations without a national manufacturing strategy.