Trump stated that since he was elected (Nov. 2016), 2.4 million new jobs were created, 200,000 of which were manufacturing jobs.
Some important points on this: Technically, it was closer to 2.37 million, and for 2017, the growth was about 2.1 million, which was less the previous two years. And good or bad, the growth in the early quarters could be attributed to the policies of outgoing Barack Obama. Whoever is to credit or blame, adding jobs is better than losing them. Also, with continual job growth for the entire decade which now exceeds pre-Recession totals, it makes sense that jobs should level out somewhat.
The percentage of manufacturing jobs added is 8.4% of the total 2.37 million, while manufacturing's share overall is about 8.1%. That at least signifies manufacturing, once the nation's foundation, is slowly starting to build back up.
Wages Up, Unemployment Down
Trump then said: "After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages. Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low."
Although the unemployment claim here is true, wages actually dipped 2% from Q4 2016 to Q4 2017. Manufacturing wages, however, increased by 2.5% from Jan. 2017 to Dec. 2017.
Record-Breaking Stock Market
"The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value," Trump boasted. "That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts."
Capital Equipment Investment
ATI Industrial Automation
Sure, with 401Ks up, your crew will be a little happier, less distracted, and hopefully more productive, when they know their retirement plan doesn’t involve being forced to live with their kid when paychecks stop flowing.
But what's more important is that business confidence and investment in America is high, meaning all those small machine shops can feel secure adding a few new CNC machines. That's good for the equipment manufacturer, and better for the shop, because they have the latest tools to compete on a global scale.
"We slashed the business tax rate from 35% all the way down to 21%, so American companies can compete and win against anyone in the world," Trump said. "Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20% of their business income."
Again, this speaks to investing in America. China has been laser-focused on improving its already incredibly efficient manufacturing base. If the American small businesses who provide the small parts to the big manufacturers are getting killed with taxes, prices skyrocket and more businesses won’t find the U.S. economically viable. Then nobody's paying taxes, so it really doesn’t matter if the tax rate is 10% or 60%: the government is getting bupkis.
Manufacturing Success Story
What good is arguing the theoretical merits of tax cuts when you can show how they can help?
Trump introduced Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger of Staub Manufacturing Solutions, a Dayton-based machine shop. The Ohio company that offers metal-fabricating and laser-cutting services added 14 new employees. This was attributed to the tax reforms that have not gone into effect yet.
Trump and TRUMPF?
Trump visited the shop during his 2016 campaign. Coincidentally, the previous year, the shop bought a an 8,000 Watt Fiber Laser from equipment manufacturer TRUMPF Inc. Or maybe not so coincidentally…
"He's a great welder, too."
Staub's confidence allowed the business to give raises to their employees, as several others have done since the announcement. One of these workers, welder Corey Adams, was reported to have allocated his extra cash to his kids' education.
This makes him a great parent, "and he's a great welder, too," Trump added.
Welding Shout Out
A nice moment for a blue-collar guy, and an important one for welders. It's a community vital to all industrial growth, and one in need of some positive branding. We investigated this in our recent feature on Lincoln Electric's new Welding Training Center.
Reshoring: A.K.A. "I'm Baaaaack!"
"Independence Day" / 20th Cent. Fox
Chrysler was given a presidential shout out for moving Ram heavy-duty truck manufacturing back to Michigan from Mexico, though the Saltillo plant will keep that plant open to produce vehicle for the global market. The move does signify a 2,500-job addition to the state and a $1 billion investment. At the beginning of 2017, Ford opted to build a new plant in Michigan as opposed to a planned one in Mexico.
Green Light for Auto Industry
Trump also tooted his own trumpet by taking credit for the auto industry's rebound: "I halted government mandates that crippled America’s autoworkers—so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once again."
It has to be said that his predecessor, and extreme government intervention, were credited with saving the American auto industry when it was on the brink of collapse, and car manufacturing has enjoyed several years of growth.
Trump then mentioned Apple's plans to invest $350 billion in America (by the end of 2023). Its major Tawainese supplier Foxconn is also opening a $10-billion plant in Wisconsin, which offered an enticing package of subsidies and incentives.
Toyota and Mazda are also going in on an Alabama plant, which could employ 4,000 workers.
There's one reason Trump says businesses are flocking back: "They want to be where the action is. They want to be in the United States of America."
Trump rightly recognizes that for America to reclaim its great building heritage, America needs skilled workers.
"As tax cuts create new jobs, let us invest in workforce development and job training. Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential."
Manufacturers are working closely with these schools already to tell them what skills they need, so the schools produce employable graduates. The government can help by adding incentives and offering a trade-based Pell grant, as well as boosting G.I. Bill benefits for veterans who learn a useful trade.
He also mentioned offering prisoners more opportunities for manufacturing employment, which could simultaneously decrease recidivism and help close the skills gap.
The one thing anyone in manufacturing can appreciate is the emphasis on forging your destiny:
"If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything."
There's no reason the same principles that lead to a successful, efficient manufacturing business, populated by the "blue-collar" folks politicians say are so important to America, shouldn’t carry over to the white-collar and no-collar crowd. If you want to build better America, then do as the builders do.