During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump heavily campaigned on restoring manufacturing jobs to the United States. Now President Trump has the opportunity to advance policies to realize those campaign promises. On July 13, the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution hosted the sixth annual John Hazen White Forum on Public Policy, titled “Manufacturing under the Trump administration”. The event featured a series of panels that convened journalists, policymakers, and industry experts from academia and the private sector to discuss broader trends in manufacturing and how the new administration might respond to them.
Throughout their discussion, panelists made comparisons between the manufacturing policy current and previous administrations. While President Obama emphasized advanced manufacturing techniques and accompanying skills training, President Trump has sought a return of traditional manufacturing jobs that compared to traditional manufacturing methods, technologies like 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and robotics require fewer workers with higher skill levels.
So far, Trump’s plan to boost manufacturing employment involves pressuring international trading partners to renegotiate trade deals like NAFTA and domestic businesses to keep jobs in the United States. The president has also threatened tariffs on imports of steel to protect U.S. producers. The administration also seeks to lower costs for manufacturers, both by reducing the corporate tax rate and by rolling back existing regulations. Trump’s proposed budget would also slash funding for existing training programs in favor of pressuring businesses to invest more in training for their own workers.
Despite the administration’s focus on traditional manufacturing, companies continue to invest in research and development and recruit skilled workers in order to stay competitive both domestically and abroad. The federal government plays a role both in funding manufacturing R&D and incentivizing training programs such as apprenticeships that prepare workers to use new technologies. Growing manufacturing sectors like clean energy also depend on maintaining federal regulations on environmental protection and energy efficiency.
Find out more about the event and the panelists here, and watch video of the event below.