However, DeRocco warns that Americans "are not confident that policymakers are taking the right approach today to support U.S. competitiveness." She says that 83 percent of survey respondents either "strongly agree" or "agree" America needs a more strategic approach to develop its manufacturing base. This same attitude, she says, also applies to the public's views on current U.S. tax, trade and other government business policies. Less than one-third of the public sees any competitive advantage being created for U.S. businesses from current policies — and more than two-thirds see current policies having a neutral or negative impact relative to our ability to compete with other nations.
According to the survey, the U.S. public is also unsure of the ability of both business and government leadership to create a competitive U.S. economy. The survey data reveals that 43 percent of respondents believe current business leadership provides an advantage to U.S. competitiveness versus all other countries. Conversely, only 26 percent and 29 percent respectively believe that federal and state leadership are helping create a competitive advantage for the U.S. versus all other countries.
Respondents also believe the U.S. is facing a challenging and stubborn economic environment, particularly when it comes to job creation. Nearly three-fourths (72 percent) do not believe that the economy has been improving or is in better shape since 2008. More than two-thirds (67 percent) believe the economy remains weak and could fall back into recession. And, Americans are nearly evenly split on whether the economy will show significant signs of improvement by 2015.
Americans see manufacturing weakening over the longer term, too. In rating whether U.S. manufacturing is becoming stronger or weaker from a longer-term perspective, only 7 percent said it will likely be stronger while 55 percent opted for weaker.
According to Giffi, this means that the public has real concerns over manufacturing losing steam along with the economy. "While Americans' commitment to manufacturing is unwavering — meaning that they would like to see more manufacturing jobs created and strengthen the areas of competitive advantage that the U.S. has relative to other nations — they worry that these efforts may be undermined by the faltering economy and the nation's perceived lack of a competitiveness strategy."
The Manufacturing Institute is the non-profit, non-partisan affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers dedicated to changing the face of manufacturing in the country so that policy makers (government), educators, and the public understand its importance and take action to sustain and expand the industry in the United States. The Institute's strategic agenda focuses on education reform and workforce development, innovation, and research. Visit http://institute.nam.org.