Report: Seven Challenges To Rebuilding U.S. Manufacturing

By John S. McClenahen This week's report on U.S. manufacturing from the National Research Council of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., breaks no new ground. But, especially for those seeking to translate principles into public policy, the report effectively summarizes central challenges to rebuilding U.S. production capacity and jobs. According to the report, the seven challenges are employing the right metrics, accepting globalization as an economic reality, taking advantage of new information technologies, maintaining innovation, strengthening small- and medium-sized companies, educating the manufacturing workforce and dealing with rising infrastructure costs. Significantly, however, the report does not resolve the highly charged issue of offshoring. "There is disagreement over whether the movement of production jobs overseas is a net positive or a net negative trend -- that is, whether production capacity today is a commodity or a strategic asset."

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