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Trump Meets With Manufacturers


President Trump met with CEOs of some of this country's top manufacturers yesterday.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My administration's policies on regulatory reform, tax reform, trade policies, will return significant manufacturing jobs to our country.

INSKEEP: It's still unclear what the details of those policies will be, so let's talk with Jay Timmons of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Good morning, sir.

JAY TIMMONS: Good morning, Steve. How are you?

INSKEEP: OK. Thank you very much for joining us.

Do you know something the president will definitely do that definitely increases manufacturing employment?

TIMMONS: Well, he's actually started doing exactly that with some of his executive orders on permitting and the regulatory environment. And I think what we're really encouraged about - Dave Farr, who is the chair of the NAM and CEO of Emerson, was at the meeting representing our 14,000 members. And what he heard and what he presented was the urgent need for regulatory reform - 297,696 regulations applied directly to manufacturers, and the cost burden, $35,000 per employee per year, for small manufacturers for compliance is really overwhelming the system. So...

INSKEEP: I'd hate to have been the person who had to go through and count those regulations for you so that you could use...

TIMMONS: Unfortunately...

INSKEEP: ...That 297,000 number.

TIMMONS: ...We - our staff had to do that, and (laughter) they worked pretty hard on it.

INSKEEP: Well, let me ask about a couple of things here. Isn't manufacturing employment already increasing? The Bureau of Labor Statistics says it's been up the last couple of years.

TIMMONS: It's been up slightly, but I think we're really missing a lot of opportunities. And when the president talks about comprehensive tax reform, significant investment in infrastructure as well as in regulatory reform, that's going to be the shot in the arm that this economy needs. It's going to be the shot in the arm that manufacturers need, and it's going to lead to more investment here in the United States and more job creation. And that's what we're looking forward to.

INSKEEP: Now, let me ask about job creation. I wonder if we're missing the point here because, as you know very well, manufacturing output has gone up for many decades in the United States, even in recent decades...

TIMMONS: That's right.

INSKEEP: ...When employment has gone down. Because you're more productive, the more investing you do, it tends to lead to more automation. And automation is going forward extremely rapidly. And none of that is really being addressed in government right now. Is the fundamental problem, the elephant in the room, being missed here?

TIMMONS: So let me tell you, that is an excellent question. And it's part of what I'm doing for the next two weeks. I am on a state of manufacturing tour going all over the country. One of the groups that I'm talking to today are young people that are interested in manufacturing careers. I was able to see it - you know, I'm in Detroit, Mich., today. I was in Austin, Texas, a couple days ago. I got to see literally cutting-edge technology that's going into manufacturing. And that's what - that's - you call it the elephant in the room. I think it's really the unwritten script here. And that...

INSKEEP: Well, let me just - we've just got a moment. I mean, it's exciting, in a way. But it's high-tech...

TIMMONS: It's exciting because it's...

INSKEEP: ...Jobs for highly educated people. That classic, blue-collar job just isn't going to be there in the same kind of numbers that it was. Are we really not confronting that?

TIMMONS: Well, I tell you, the jobs are going to be available to folks who have kind of upskilled, you know, upping their skills for these upscale jobs. And it is a different kind of job, but it's not fewer jobs. It's a different kind of job in modern manufacturing today. Technology is really where it's at. These companies are recruiting all over the country for young people who are going to be able to deal with these jobs of the future.


Mr. Timmons, thanks very much. Appreciate you taking the time.

TIMMONS: Thank you for your time.

INSKEEP: Jay Timmons is the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, and he speaks with us on this morning after President Trump met with a number of manufacturing CEOs. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.