What a Trump Presidency Means for U.S. Manufacturing

What a Trump Presidency Means for U.S. Manufacturing

November 17, 2016 | U.S. Manufacturing

It has been over a week since the election and the results have left unrest throughout the country. While some may be protesting the results, President-elect Donald Trump has made some bold promises to help bring back American manufacturing jobs and revitalize the job market. Promises are what helped get him into the office, but can he make good on all those promises? Will his policies restore the jobs like he believes they will? Even with the perfect policy, there is no guarantee for success.

Withdrawal From TPP and Changes to NAFTA

During his campaign, Trump was able to convince the nation that his methods would help restore the country. According to his own campaign site, Trump promised to withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will eliminate tax laws to increase international trade for small business. He will also renegotiate the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to better benefit American workers. If countries refuse a renegotiation, he would withdrawal from the deal. To protect American businesses, Trump plans to direct the Secretary of Commerce to examine all trade agreements and end all abuses using any American or international laws. His key domestic plan is to create a tax plan that urges businesses to keep and grow American jobs.

Investing In Infrastructure and Creating American Jobs

When it comes to job creation, Trump is concrete with his focus on infrastructure. America’s roads and bridges have been in disrepair and crumbling for decades. He plans to focus on rebuilding and repairing, creating many blue collar construction jobs. Manufacturing of new vehicles and technology could be on the rise as well, as large tools like cranes and concrete mixers will be needed and need to be top of the line. However, that doesn’t guarantee jobs for our country. Many new North American plants are in Mexico, a nation Trump has targeted in many of his speeches. Companies report that the desire to work with the country isn’t because of a cheap labor force, but a large labor force. Even with available manufacturing jobs, finding people willing to fill those roles is difficult.

For decades, the focus has been on college degrees to achieve wealth and security, so many young people are not eager to head to the factories. Technology also poses a problem. With new advancements in robotic and computer engineering, manufacturing jobs are being lost to faster and more efficient robotics to manufacture goods needed in this country. The jobs that companies need instead are those that can quickly repair those robots, which requires a higher knowledge and a college degree. Traditional manufacturing simply cannot meet the demands for Americans at the low prices consumers are willing to pay.

Will History Repeat Itself?

The premise of Trump’s successful campaign was keeping the focus on America, so much so that he’s slogan was “Make America Great Again.” Given the great pride and nationalism that he has shown, it wouldn’t be unbelievable that Trump sticks to his campaign promises. However, the position of President does not guarantee that he will get everything he wants and there are other government officials and leaders who need to agree with him to make it happen.

Trump’s pride and nationalism spurred him to the top. It was feeling and tone that had not been seen since the Roaring Twenties. This time was marked by significant economic growth and a boom that was catalyzed by the end of World War I. What followed the height of greatest was the worst economic collapse of our country’s history, The Great Depression. If history is to be any indicator of how successful Trump’s policies may be, then the nation will be rising towards disaster.

While growth was obvious during this historical period, it was unstable. Government policies were not clearly funded and it was very much a credit based system for all. New policies were short sighted and we didn’t see how our views and reforms of trade, migration, and foreign investment policies had a negative impact on our long term economy. We also didn’t account for policies in Europe and Asia, closing ourselves off to our allies. Much of this sounds familiar to the campaign promises proposed by Trump. This is not to say that it is a guaranteed failure, but history has a tendency to repeat itself for those who don’t learn from it.

Policy can help revitalize American roads and the economy, but it can’t guarantee jobs. Trump has a good start, but his current plan has some flaws. He will likely need to be flexible to significantly improve the state of U.S. manufacturing and to avoid policy changes that could ultimately undermine that goal and our economy.