WASHINGTON D.C. – The cost of healthcare and the lack of what some are calling a “level playing field” are hampering the ability of the U.S. manufacturing sector to compete in the global marketplace – and state governors in particular are worried that this could hurt the country’s ability to create well-paying jobs and could stifle economic growth as well.
“It’s almost impossible to compete with countries that pay their workers cents on the dollar and have no environmental regulations, even as U.S. companies struggle with high healthcare and legacy costs with assistance at the federal level,” said Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm during a panel discussion at an “Innovation Symposium” held by car and truck maker DaimlerChrysler AG here this week.
“We as a country need to develop a uniquely American solution to healthcare and employee retirement costs not just because it’s a moral issue but because it’s a competitive issue as well,” Granholm said. “We need to provide assistance to manufacturers to make them more competitive in the world, so we can keep their jobs here.”
“States need all the tools they can get to help manufacturers compete in an ever more brutally competitive world economy,” added Ohio Governor Bob Taft. “In particular, we’re investing heavily in transportation infrastructure so we can better support the needs of a JIT [just-in-time] economic model. Manufacturing and the jobs it helps create in other industries are critical to our state’s – and the country’s – future prosperity.”
“The global economy is no longer a theory. Realize that it is here and we have to deal with it,” said Alabama Governor Bob Riley. “Whether it’s through incentives, training, or other means, we need to do all we can to help manufacturers be more competitive globally.”