Brookings Study: Manufacturing Makes the Economy Work

A new paper by the Brookings Institute lends weight to the argument that a vibrant manufacturing sector is critical to the U.S. economy. In a concise summary, the report says manufacturing matters because it provides high-wage jobs, commercial innovation (the nation’s largest source), is key to reducing the trade deficit and provides a disproportionately large contribution to environmental sustainability. The study lists sub-sections of the manufacturing sector as particularly important, including: computers, electronics; chemicals (including pharmaceuticals); transportation (including aerospace and motor vehicles and parts) and machinery.

Despite recent increases in manufacturing activity, the study notes that the sector cannot fully recover without help. “Public policy is needed to help strengthen manufacturing and promote a high-wage, innovative, export-intensive and environmentally sustainable manufacturing base,” said the report.

According to the report, American manufacturing needs strengthening in four key areas, including: research and development; lifelong training at all levels; improved access to financing and an increased role for workers and communities to share in the gains from innovative manufacturing.