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Survey: Manufacturing Climate Improves, But Work Remains

by Christine Stuart | Aug 29, 2012 12:08pm
(3) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Business, Congress, Election 2012, Jobs, Labor

Christine Stuart photo

U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Manufacturers in Connecticut still face challenges, according to a survey of 191 of them, but there has also been some improvement over the past year.

One of the biggest challenges for manufacturers was finding qualified employees. Last year , 87 percent said they had difficulty locating skilled workers, but that number dropped to about 70 percent in this year’s survey.

This is the second year of the survey conducted by U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

“We have high-quality workers, but not enough of them to fill the jobs manufacturers need today,” Murphy said.

Fifty-six percent of the respondents plan to hire more workers in the next year, 58 percent expect to increase wages, and only 10 percent are planning layoffs, according to the survey.

However, many challenges remain. Ninety-two percent of manufacturers said providing health care coverage was their largest concern. A number of respondents also said tax policy is less of a hindrance to business growth than a continued lack of consumer demand for their products, a concern for 44 percent of the respondents. Increased competition from foreign sources was a concern for 45 percent and the inability to find skilled workers was a concern for 69 percent.

“Our economic salvation in this state is directly tied to the health of the manufacturing sector. We can not compete if we don’t make things in this country,” Murphy said.

Nearly a third of Connecticut’s manufacturers contract with the federal government and Murphy and Blumenthal said they’re committed to helping eliminate “red tape” for these manufacturers.

One of the ways they plan to do this is with Murphy’s “Buy American” legislation. He maintained that 600,000 American jobs would be created if American companies bidding on government work were given priority over foreign companies.

Fifty percent of manufacturers in the state report that they would be able to hire more workers if the “Buy American” laws at the federal level were stronger, Murphy said.

Murphy’s attempts to get his “Buy American” legislation passed have been met by defeat. It’s a point his Republican opponent in the U.S. Senate race likes to raise.

“You have made Buy American legislation a centerpiece of your campaign, yet it hasn’t even been passed into law,“ Linda McMahon’s campaign manager says in an email to reporters. “Not only that, but you have voted against it —  twice. How can you claim something is an accomplishment if it hasn’t actually happened and you voted against it? Twice?”

Murphy touted the passage of the Buy American amendment to the defense authorization bill in this video. However, he failed to mention that he voted against the overall bill to which it was attached, because he could not support an open-ended commitment to maintaining troops in Afghanistan.

But on Wednesday Murphy turned the tables back on McMahon, saying he doesn’t know whether she supports the Buy American agenda.

‘Is she criticizing me because she opposes it, or because she’s trying to score political points?” Murphy wondered.

“We’re trying to turn around 20 years of off-shoring of government work. That doesn’t get done in two years alone,” Murphy said.

He said he’s read McMahon’s economic plan and he doesn’t remember any mention of “keeping our taxpayer dollars here in this country.”

McMahon was on an agricultural tour of the state in Wallingford on Wednesday. Asked if she would support Murphy’s Buy American legislation, she said she wasn’t familiar enough with the bill to comment on it.

“I’ve haven’t seen his full bill. What I really want to do is to make sure that we are keeping American business and companies competitive. That’s why in my jobs plan I’ve talked about reducing corporate tax rates from 35 to 25 percent. I want to be able to have companies be incentivized to be here, to create products here, to employ people here,” McMahon said.

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(3) Comments

posted by: skyrocket27 | August 29, 2012  12:50pm

Congressman Murphy is an 8 year veteran of the US Congress.  His ability to get things done is a fair and key issues to voters making up their minds in our state’s Senate race.

As it stands today, Congressman Murphy continues to come across as a typical double-speaking career politician. “I’m for this and it is a key part of why you should vote for me,” only to learn that he voted against it and then makes a lame excuse on why he has failed to gain passage of a key plank of his Congressional terms.  Voters know he has been a part of the majority for a fair part of his 8 year Congressional career; 2 years of which his party controlled the White House as well as the House and the Senate.  How is it that he failed during that time?  Other than to guess that he just didn’t show up for his job for those 2 years, I (and I believe Connecticut voters) are at a loss for a legitimate answer for his failure.

Rather than address concerns real people have about his record, he continues to play political games, seemingly hoping that he can fool the state’s electorate into giving him a promotion.  We won’t be fooled again.

Connecticut needs and deserves better.

posted by: Matt W. | August 29, 2012  1:17pm

Matt W.

“87 percent said they had difficulty locating skilled workers”  But I thought the goal was to send everybody to college???  How are these manufacturing positions going to be filled when every kid who can hold a pencil is given money to go to college whether they belong there or not?  Answer: They will be filled by those who cannot hold a pencil.  But Chris has the answer!! Force people to buy the products that will be manufactured by the kids who were in the bottom 5% of their class!  Surely that will work!  There’s no way that American industry will then take this competitive advantage over foreign manufacturers for granted (the way the US auto industry did in response to the Japanese tariffs in the 1970s) and start producing a weaker product.  That wouldn’t happen AGAIN! 

Ahh, the unintended consequences of market manipulation; they are just subtle enough for a politician to look good while creating the problem and then later taking credit for trying to solve each of the subsequently related problems on the back end.  It’s a beautiful thing. 

Kudos Chris Murphy, you will probably never understand just how dangerous you really are.

posted by: CitizenCT | August 30, 2012  7:53am

Chris, your number of respondents is real small.  Add to that more than half of the 191 responses have less than $10M in sales.  This survey covers but a sliver of CT’s manufacturing base.  This looks like another Murphy example of incomplete, shoddy work lacking sufficient breadth to draw real conclusions, leading to more uninformed votes.  Considering over one third contract with the federal Gvt, why did you vote against the defense appropriation act last month, critical to large manufacturers like Electric Boat and Pratt & Whitney and their extensive supply base?  In regard to buy American, your conviction mirrors John Kerry.  You were for it before you were against it.