President Obama mentioned “manufacturing” or “manufacturers” eight times during the State of the Union last night – down from 16 in 2012. However, the important role that manufacturing plays in the U.S. economy was a prominent theme in last night’s speech.
Our friends at Women in Manufacturing have posted an informative blog about manufacturing issues covered in President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night:
We have also reprinted the post below:
Last night, President Obama delivered the first State of the Union address of his second term. In the speech, he laid out an aggressive legislative agenda for the second half of his presidency. He spent relatively little time speaking about foreign policy and, instead, focused on a wide range of domestic issues from health care to tax reform to climate change to the minimum wage.
If you were following us on Twitter last night, you would have seen us tweeting about the amount of time the president spent talking about #manufacturing in his #SOTU.Included in this post are some screenshots from the White House’s “Enhanced State of the Union” presentation.
In his speech, he challenged Congress and all Americans to ask ourselves as a nation three questions everyday – “How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills they need to get those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?”
With these questions in mind, Obama focused on manufacturing and high-tech job creation.
“Our first priority,” he said, “is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three.”
He pointed to specific companies like Caterpillar, Ford and Apple who are reshoring jobs from overseas.
He expressed enthusiasm about the first manufacturing innovation institution in Youngstown, Ohio where a warehouse has been converted into a state-of-the-art lab. Based on this model, Obama announced the creation of three more of these manufacturing hubs. Here, he said, businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to create high-tech jobs. The goal Obama laid out in the speech is to have a network of 15 such hubs and “guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is made right here in America.”
Obama also drew out the importance of skills training. He compared our education system with the system in Germany in which high school students graduate with the equivalent of a technical degree. With that, he announced a new goal – “To redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy.” He explained plans to reward schools for developing partnerships with colleges and employers and for creating classes with a special focus on STEM. STEM skills, he said, are “the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.”
As Women in Manufacturing, we were pleased when the president mentioned the need to ensure women’s equality in the workplace. “We know our economy is stronger when our wives, our mothers, our daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace,” he said. He also called on Congress to “declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.”
Still, the real impact of the speech and the plans laid out in it are hard to prove. According to the latest CNN/ORC poll, fifty-three percent of speech watchers (majority Democrat) had a positive reaction to the speech, but the same poll showed that only 39% believe the speech will lead to more bipartisan cooperation.