A new poll released by the American Alliance of Manufacturing finds a majority of likely voters list jobs and, more specifically, manufacturing jobs, as a top priority. 53% of those surveyed rated manufacturing as most important to the overall strength of the American economy.
"Voters are hearing more about manufacturing from a variety of sources, but they feel little is getting done. Manufacturing is seen as a critical and irreplaceable part of the economy and our place in the world," said Mark Mellman, CEO of the Mellman Group.
The bipartisan survey of 1,200 likely general election voters was conducted by the Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research, firms that poll for Democratic and Republican candidates respectively. The findings also include results from six focus groups held in Ohio, Florida, Missouri, and Virginia. 89% of those polled favor a national strategy to support manufacturing in the U.S.
"Even in this highly-polarized political environment, this is a sentiment that is shared almost evenly across party. 67% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, 66% of Republicans all agree that manufacturing is a central part of the American economy, without which we're not going to end up being successful," said Mellman.
According to the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, the sector is the largest contributor to the state's economy. Pennsylvania manufacturers sell nearly $21 billion worth of goods overseas, representing 92% of all Pennsylvania exports.
"You're talking about roughly 13% of Pennsylvania's gross state product, 575,000 Pennsylvania jobs on the plant floor, but that manufacturing activity sustains millions of additional Pennsylvania jobs through distribution networks, supply chains, and industrial networks," said PMA Executive Director David Taylor.
The U.S. has slipped in its rankings around the world in recent years, and many manufacturing jobs have been sent overseas. Taylor said the U.S. can be on top once again, but only if action is taken on the federal and state level to fix tax and regulatory obstacles.
"There's no good reason why we cannot be the premier manufacturing economy," he said. "That is part of the misunderstanding. America is still the number one manufacturing economy on Earth. Our relative position has slipped, but in terms of our overall industrial output, our economy is still growing. We're less further ahead only because others have come so far to catch up."
56% of voters no longer see the U.S. as having the world's strongest economy, but 88% believe it's possible for the country to have the strongest economy. 92% believe it's important for the U.S. to regain that position. Those surveyed see China as the biggest threat, and a majority favored the U.S. getting tougher with China, even when posed with the possibility of that creating a "trade war." The margin of error for the +/-3.1.