From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (2/10/2012)

President Obama’s budget next week promises to have a couple of interesting and potentially helpful pro-manufacturing elements, or at least according to the AP.

Rueters, meanwhile, did its own bit of speculating on what the president’s budget might contain on the individual and corporate tax front.

And speaking of the Chief Executive, ABC News contends that for all his noble plans for manufacturing, the reality of the situation is it’s going to be tough sledding for the sector to do a complete 180 and return to its salad days of a half a century ago.

Trade pub Business Insurance says that some U.S. manufacturers are taking steps to insure themselves against claims emanating from their ongoing use of quality-challenged Chinese imports.

You owe it to yourself to read this item from fellow blogger Clyde Prestowitz who asks, “Why don’t economists get it when it comes to manufacturing?”

Meanwhile, writing in the New York Times, Christina Romer, a professor at economics at UC Berkeley and the chairwoman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors asks and answers the question, “Do Manufacturers Need Special Treatment?”

Calling Romer on a few of her contentions are a couple of economists at the Brookings Institution, who talk about the “outsized benefits” of U.S. manufacturing.

And in the Huffington Post, Devon Swezey of something calling Project Breakthrough also takes exception to a few of Romer’s more salient points.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012 got off to a slam-bang start for both labor and manufacturing.

 Business pub Industry Market Trends points out that January’s unemployment figures mark a three-year low for a number that at times lately seems to have been cast in cement, while lingering longer than a New Year’s Eve hangover.

Bloomberg columnist Ron Klain contends that right-to-work laws will not bring back U.S. manufacturing.

Another Bloomberg columnist offers a somewhat obvious six-step method on “How to Save U.S. Manufacturing,” which to be honest reads either like something out of a Business 101 class or one of those cheesy self-help books you find in airport magazine shops.

Tony Hynes, an independent manufacturer from the Albany, NY area who last week hosted one of his state’s U.S. senators claims a number of his customers who had begun using Chinese competitors have started coming back.

CNN Money asks in light of something the late Apple founder Steve Jobs said to President Obama just a few months before he died, are U.S. manufacturing jobs gone for good?

Speaking of Jobs and specifically Apple, the bloom now seems to be officially off the rose for the one-time darling of the right brain set, as this week a rally in Washington about ethical manufacturing put Apple and its rather startling disparity of Chinese vs. American workers directly in the cross-hairs of the protesters.

Industry Week reports that, despite its slowdown in 2011, manufacturing in China keep chugging along.

This one at first blush might sound like an opportunity to gain on China, but keep in mind this country needs a strong Chinese middle class to continue our growth and keep our biggest new market in the mindset to buy more and more American goods.  That’s why I’m among those who don’t consider this fact good news: in 2011 auto sales in China dropped by 24% from the year before.

Here’s an interesting story of one U.S. apparel manufacturer which, using outsourced Chinese workers and contractors, still keeps its eye on the ball when it comes to operating in a green fashion and making the most of sustainable resources.

That said, Manufacturing. net reports that China is slowly but surely becoming the land of environmental disasters and rising costs.

Representatives from the American Steelworkers Union and the Alliance for American Manufacturing were on Capitol Hill last week to detail for legislators how China’s illegal trade activities with respect to various auto parts are severely damaging U.S. manufacturing and this country’s steel industry.

And finally, here’s one after my heart:  one Huffington Post blogger opines that if U.S. manufacturing is going to rally, small businesses might just be the key


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