The Myth of Industrial Rebound, a feature article by Steven Rattner in this week’s Sunday Review section of The New York Times offers a broad perspective on the unlikely notion that high paid manufacturing jobs are ever coming back to the U.S. New plants that have opened recently are offering manufacturing jobs that start at wages that are hardly middle class like $12 to $14 an hour. The problems are multifaceted and diverse but essentially we don’t have enough skilled workers and we aren’t competitive enough compared to countries like Mexico whose average wage per worker is roughly $8 an hour versus $45 an hour in the U.S. Increased research and development, added spending on infrastructure, more foreign direct investment, and other policy changes will help but as Mr. Rattner argues, the issues are deeply structural in nature and unlikely to change significantly over time. He states: “in a flattened world, there will always be another China.”
My mantra: The more awareness and the more action we take based on that awareness, the better! If we know what the issues are and don’t deny them then we can create policies that make a real difference. Early childhood education is proven to make a real difference. The more educated we are as a nation the better. Let’s put resources towards aims that matter so our next generation actually lives the American dream!