U.S. Commerce Secretary Speaks at National Manufacturing Week

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff March 23, 2006

Carlos M. Gutierrez, the 35thSecretary of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, spoke this morning at National Manufacturing Week in Rosemont , Ill.

Secretary Gutierrez stressed the strength of American manufacturing, productivity and innovation and the key role they play in helping maintain U.S. economic leadership. Among his comments:

On U.S. leadership and international competition:

The United States is the world’s leading exporter of goods and services.

Our Gross Domestic Product grew last year by 3.5%—higher than the combined GDP growth of Italy (0.3%), Germany (0.9%) and France (1.5%). Canada’s GPD grew 2.9%, and Japan’s grew 2.8%.

“When the Berlin wall went down, we gained three billion new consumers but also three billion new competitors.” This has allowed protectionists to retreat, “suggesting we take our ball and go home.”

However, “policy change should not be governed by fear.”

“Countries that trade grow faster than those that don’t.”

Since 1985, U.S. manufacturers have doubled their output. We’re well outpacing Mexico (77%); more than twice the rise in Germany (44%), and three times the rise in France (32%) and Japan (27%) over the same period.

%%POINT%%Since 2001, productivity in our economy is growing at the fastest rate in nearly four decades (3.3%), and manufacturing productivity is growing even faster (5.0%).And the ISM index indicates continued manufacturing expansion.

Despite this growth we still hear the question, “Is there opportunity and a successful future for manufacturing in America?” The answer is: “Absolutely yes!”

Real pay and benefits are growing faster in manufacturing (2.8%), than in other businesses—and substantially above the growth rate during the 1990s (1.6%).

On U.S. innovation and education:

“Innovation is part of the U.S. DNA.”

“Two-thirds of R&D is within the private sector.” We need to protect the intellectual capital, encourage engineers and scientists to continue to work and pursue advances in technology and innovation.

Education is key to leadership in manufacturing but “the U.S. is being outpaced by other countries.”

Manufacturers report there are not enough graduates to meet current and future needs.

Last year the U.S. graduated 70,000 students in math and science. India graduated 350,000. China also graduates hundreds of thousands every year .