Manufacturing has historically been a vital part of the United States economy as a major provider of stable, high-wage jobs and a builder of a strong middle class. Currently, the sector remains a vital part of the U.S. economy by directly supporting 12.4 million jobs and generating significant
demand for goods and services from other economic sectors. However, over the past four decades, the sector has shrunk, and so too has the growing economic prosperity that accompanied it. This hollowing out of the American middle class has progressed steadily, income inequality growing to the point that the top 10 percent of earners now reap nearly 50 percent of the nation’s income. Further, this income inequality has been widened along racial and ethnic lines, as the wealth of white households has increasingly exceeded that of people of color.
As state and local governments across the country have been seeking innovative solutions to combat these growing social and economic trends, our public institutions must play a central role in strengthening policies that can rebuild the middle class. With millions of U.S. manufacturing job openings projected over the next decade, now is the time to seize the opportunity for innovative policies that can revitalize this sector and ensure that the jobs we are creating are high-quality, permanent jobs, and are accessible to all.
This report considers new ways in which government can play a role in revitalizing manufacturing, and brings to light new tools to ensure good jobs, inclusivity, and community benefits tied to all public investment in private manufacturing. Namely, the report is intended to help spark a discussion around re-energizing the U.S. manufacturing sector by coupling government procurement dollars with incentives for inclusive, high-road employment, as well as mechanisms for evaluation and accountability of results.