Public Support for Domestic Manufacturing is Still High
Manufacturing headlines haven’t been all too positive lately. Trade wars and tariffs, talks of recession, and the dearth of qualified STEM candidates in the U.S. don’t inspire confidence. That said, Americans stand by the manufacturing economy. According to the second annual Manufacturing Perception Report by Thomas, support for domestic manufacturing is still high, even in the face of headwinds.
The report focuses on several core elements of public perception, including the value, quality, affordability, and accessibility of American-made goods. A survey of participants showed strong positive indicators, including:
- 95% believe manufacturing is critical to the broader U.S. economy
- 62% of Americans prefer to buy domestic products
- 55% believe American-made products are superior to imports
- 60% would encourage a friend or family member to pursue a career in manufacturing
- 79% want to see more government support for apprenticeship initiatives
- 87% believe manufacturing is important to national security
While small (polling just 1,000 people) the Thomas report spans an extremely diverse segment of the population. In addition to capturing positive consumer sentiment about manufacturing, the survey also noted some key negatives. Only a quarter of those surveyed believe the manufacturing economy will expand in the coming years. Moreover, about half thought tariffs were disruptive to domestic manufacturing.
Public perception of manufacturing collected by the Thomas report jives with a similar report by Deloitte from 2017. Now dated by a couple of years, the report nonetheless provides context for how Americans have embraced manufacturing during a time of competitive globalization. According to the Deloitte report:
- 83% of Americans see manufacturing as an important path to economic prosperity
- 70% of people believe the U.S. should invest more in domestic manufacturing
- 64% believe U.S. manufacturing is high tech, using cutting-edge resources
- 67% percent believe a career in manufacturing is rewarding
- 67% believe the U.S. should increase available internship and apprenticeship programs
- 80% of people believe manufacturing is essential for a high standard of living
By virtually every metric, public perception of manufacturing has increased since 2017. It could have to do with the evolution of industry or the broad call to action for manufacturing jobs. Even more likely is the rally cry around manufacturing by the Trump administration in 2016 and the consistent newsworthiness of the struggling manufacturing economy. Regardless of what’s bringing attention to manufacturing, public support is growing and remains strong.
Support for manufacturing is so strong these days that it’s actually garnering bipartisan support at a time when politics are as divisive as ever. Calls from both sides of the aisle for better manufacturing policy are growing louder as manufacturing becomes dismayed by contraction. A poll from October of 2018 has recently resurfaced, showing voters are increasingly paying attention to their affiliated party’s stance on manufacturing support.
Regardless of the headlines or the many industry headwinds we keep hearing about, one thing remains true: American support for manufacturing is stronger than ever. Tough times may lay ahead, but the vast majority of consumers align themselves with American manufacturers and the positive contributions they make to the economy and everyday life.