GE executive predicts positive future for U.S. manufacturing

April 25, 2012

Jeff Immelt, the chief executive officer for General Electric, recently spoke to the increased competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing in the past several years, as he outlined how the sector would continue to bolster its strength in the near future, The Financial Times reported.

According to the news outlet, the executive spoke to the tax breaks that American manufacturers have received, and how these lower costs have led to an adjustment of business strategy that promotes growth in the sector.

"The sheer competitiveness of the U.S. is better than at any time in the past 25 years," Immelt told The Financial Times. He spoke to faster innovation, higher productivity, greater flexibility to respond to market changes and "semi-competitive" wages that helped U.S. manufacturing "compete toe-to-toe with pretty much anybody in the world."

According to the news outlet, analysts have said that there are now some signs that improvements in business performance for the American economy, as globalization has led many companies toward greater efficiency and well-defined operations.

Lean manufacturing has emerged as a leading way to lower operating costs while also promoting significant output, as companies are beginning to favor an efficient approach to the production of goods.

A transition toward more research and development and technological improvements to certain processes could also help American manufacturing, The Detroit Free Press reported.

"Engineering is never more important than it is today," said Immelt. "Technology is never more important than it is today." The executive added that his company's research-and-development spending has increased from 2 percent to 6 percent.

An article in the Huffington Post noted that the manufacturing sector could be further bolstered by government investment, though some in the industry have said that this may detract from the natural innovation that occurs because of a global economy and competition from foreign companies.

The article spoke to how increased productivity and use of technology does not actually kill jobs, as it produces more revenue for a company and leads to expansion. New positions are created to replace those that are lost by the adoption of efficient technology.

And increased productivity in manufacturing will bolster the entire U.S. economy, according to Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council.

"The economic evidence is increasingly clear that a strong manufacturing sector creates spillover benefits to the broader economy, making manufacturing an essential component of a competitive and innovative economy," said Sperling.