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Business Leader: 'Made in the USA' Rebirth on the Way

03-07-2017
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The chair of the largest manufacturing association in the United States believes America will see a renewal of "Made in the USA."

"I'm very optimistic," Drew Greenblatt, chair of the National Association of Manufacturers, told CNBC's "On The Money."

"We're going to see an American manufacturing renaissance."

Greenblatt, who is also the president of Baltimore-based Marlin Steel Wire Products, believes President Donald Trump's policies could lead to new hiring.

"We're talking about reducing regulations by 75 percent, cutting our tax rate from 40-something percent to 15 percent," he said. "It's just going to make America more attractive to bring back opportunities to our country."

CNBC's "On The Money" reports more and more market experts believe a 30-year downtrend in the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs can be turned around.

However, others are skeptical because of current economic practices. For example, in the apparel industry, around 97 percent of clothing and shoes sold in America today is manufactured overseas, according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association. The figure was around 54 percent twenty years ago.

Skeptics wonder if any government policy can lead to a renewal in manufacturing.

"There's not much that can bring most of those jobs back," Jan Kniffen, a retail consultant, told CNBC. "We haven't made patterns in America, we haven't made the product in America forever."

Kniffen believes the U.S. "would need factories, but those factories would have to be so automated, the jobs would be maintaining the equipment not producing the product."

Why? He says the reason is "the cost of producing abroad is so low and shipping not that much."

Still, Greenblatt isn't backing down, believing that some sectors could make a comeback.

"I acknowledge some industries are not coming back here; it makes more sense to do it elsewhere," he told CNBC. "But things like making airplanes and bulldozers and cars -- it's going to grow here; it's going to thrive here."

Both Greenblatt and Kniffen say one obstacle to a manufacturing renaissance is a substantial shortfall in trained workers to step into open positions.

Click here to learn how a Virginia Beach, Virginia, company is using a camp for high school students to fight against the U.S. manufacturing skills gap.

The Manufacturing Institute said in a 2015 report that more than three million manufacturing positions would need to be staffed over the next 10 years. That's because of employees retiring or finding other jobs.

However, the drop in required skills will result in only around a million of the jobs being filled. That's partly because not as many students are being trained at school.

"There is a significant skills gap", Greenblatt said. "We need schools to be teaching math, English, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) educations. These things are critical to create the talent pool so we can hire these people."

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