Obama administration official notes manufacturing workers should receive more federal help

September 10, 2012

The link between the federal government and the U.S. manufacturing sector has always been strong, but one official in the Obama administration noted that the relationship should be further strengthened in the coming years.

According to the Detroit Free Press, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis noted that federal aid should be available for manufacturing workers who lose their jobs due to increased foreign competition and a lack of investment capital in America.

She noted that these jobs are vital to the entire U.S. economy, and programs like the Trade Adjustment Assistance program help to support these workers during economic downturns. This helps to provide willing and able employees once any type of recession or down period is over.

"That’s a dream right now that we have," she said at the 2012 Michigan Works! For People conference in Detroit. "We think the support provided through TAA actually works. We know that’s what’s needed."

The program is directly linked with the federal government and provides retraining, job search consulting and other services to workers in the sector who have lost their jobs because of competition from imported products, according to the news outlet.

Another problem that Solis identified is the traditional notions that are associated with manufacturing, a sector that she notes has changed drastically over the years. Technical skills are required for work in the industry, and the idea of a dimly lit factory is something has not been around for quite some time.

"You can still maintain a middle-class living, believe it or not, as a welder," Solis said at the conference. "There has been a PR effort that has somehow convinced people that it’s not good to work with your hands."

Though Michigan was long a center of manufacturing in the U.S., it has seen a rapid decline of industry over the past several decades due to outsourcing and a drop in the state's role in the automotive sector, according to The Detroit News.

This is why the Obama administration is looking to revive the area's manufacturing sector, as it would help to provide the vehicle for an economic resurgence in the region and could bring thousands of jobs to the state, according to the newspaper.