WASHINGTONThe U.S. manufacturing sector has added 554,000 jobs since February 2010, according to a report from the Democratic members of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.
The report also shows manufacturing exports to be up 38 percent since 2009, exceeding the nation's pre-recession peak for exports. More than 3 million manufacturing jobs are currently attributable to exports, said the report's executive summary.
Manufacturers are bringing jobs back to the U.S., thanks to productivity gains, low U.S. natural gas prices, rising labor costs abroad and the benefits of having production close to research and development facilities, the report said, adding that despite these positive trends, the U.S. still needs to add 1.7 million manufacturing jobs to bring the sector back to pre-recession hiring levels.
A skills gap among workers, insufficient support for research and development, deteriorating transportation infrastructure, closed overseas markets and an overly complex tax and regulatory system all create barriers to job creation in manufacturing, it said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee, called for policies to expand education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; open markets abroad; expand access to capital; and create conditions to stimulate growth, including cutting government red tape and streamlining the tax code.