Opening Remarks by Congressman Rush at the House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee Hearing titled “Where the Jobs Are: Can American Manufacturing Thrive Again?”
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WASHINGTON — Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) delivered the following opening statement at a House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade subcommittee hearing examining the current state of American-based manufacturing and its importance to increasing job creation and American trade and exports:
Good morning, Madam Chair Bono Mack and Ranking Member Butterfield. Thank you for calling this important hearing.
I welcome the Honorable John Bryson to our subcommittee. It is a great privilege for us to have you here with us today. This is the second manufacturing-themed hearing that has been convened in the 112th Congress by this subcommittee.
Addressing manufacturing issues is not new to this subcommittee.
America’s manufacturing sector is the foundation of our Nation’s economy. Consider the fact that in 2009, the manufacturing sector employed more than 11.5 million people.
Ladies and gentlemen, that number, though significant, is not as good as it could be when you consider that 10 years ago, America’s manufacturing sector employed 17.3 million people. That means our Nation actually lost 5.8 million jobs in the decade between 1999 and 2009. If you review the recent history of unemployment, you will see that this decline began in 2000 and continued through 2009, culminating in staggering losses of approximately 50,000 factories and millions of manufacturing jobs.
Since 2000, U.S. production of manufactured goods actually declined by five percent. This decline has severely and negatively impacted manufacturing-based job creation and seriously impaired those communities that were built and have grown up (over decades and across generations) around these lost and hobbled manufacturing plants and facilities.
Congress passed legislation to help restore and reposition our Nation’s manufacturing capacity so that American workers can better compete in today’s global economy. Yet today, the U.S. is still fighting its way through a global financial crisis as we face fierce and “win-at-all-costs” competition from other industrialized nations as well as emerging and developing countries.
A significant number of the world’s developing countries have designed and implemented five- or ten-year strategic plans. These plans have been designed to enable their associated economies to compete globally through the exportation of goods to ours and other markets. In recent years for example, the U.S. actually lost market share in both mature and in key emerging industries to rapidly-growing export countries like China and India.
For more than 100 years the U.S. ranked number one in the world in terms of manufacturing output — that is inclusive of the Midwest which, as you know, has historically depended heavily on manufacturing and agriculture to sustain a viable and strong economy. Last year, for the first time, the U.S. gave up its leading trading position to China, which was reflected in the displacement of more than 2.3 million U.S. jobs. Ladies and Gentlemen, that should be a wake-up call to us all.
I firmly believe that the federal government must do all that it can to ensure our trading partners “play by the rules” to foster sustainable employment growth and to protect our companies’ ability to play and to prosper in a fair marketplace. If the U.S. does not act aggressively NOW, our steady decline will only steepen and quicken. We simply cannot allow that to happen.
In closing, let me commend the President for declaring that exportation of manufactured products is a national priority and for his bold and significant steps to strengthen our manufacturing sector. Democratic members of the House have also attempted to play a key role as part of their “MAKE IT IN AMERICA” legislative campaign to introduce legislation to reduce our growing lack and deficits in necessary technical skills, address worker scarcity in manufacturing sectors trying to work their ways around the challenges associated with a graying workforce, and to retrain U.S. workers seeking employment for manufacturing-related jobs that are currently in higher demand. I hope that my Republican friends will finally come with an “action plan” instead of a “talking plan.”
I am looking forwarding to hearing from witnesses. With that, I yield back the balance of my time. Thank you.