The manufacturing industry is the backbone of any healthy economy. Manufacturing covers a huge range of products for both individuals and businesses, from kitchenware to the computer that this blog post is being written on.
Virtually everyone uses manufactured goods in some way, shape, or form. Given how important the manufacturing industry is to the world economy, it’s little surprise that WYPR, the Baltimore branch of NPR, decided to interview various figures in Baltimore’s manufacturing sector to discuss the state of the manufacturing industry and ask what could be done to make things better.
During WYPR’s broadcast on Monday, May 11, show host Dan Rodricks interviewed several key figures in Baltimore, including Marlin Steel’s own Drew Greenblatt.
The discussion saw Marlin Steel’s CEO field questions not only from the NPR host, but from several area citizens who had concerns regarding the manufacturing industry. Topics included:
- Compensation for manufacturing employees.
- How American manufacturers can deal with foreign competition.
- Ideas for promoting manufacturing sector growth in Maryland and, by extension, America.
Here are some highlights from the NPR interview:
Manufacturing Jobs Help Grow the Middle Class
One of the major problems in many industries is that workers do not earn enough money per year at a single job to earn what would be considered a “living wage.” Low-paying jobs trap Americans in the lower class, failing to pay an amount of compensation that would allow these workers to provide for their families.
Near the beginning of the NPR broadcast, the question of employee compensation was brought up. When asked about employee compensation for manufacturing workers, our CEO responded that: “American manufacturers have extraordinary opportunities for people to rise up to the middle class. We pay on average $77,000 dollars a year – including benefits. This is a ‘last job,’ this is how you heal a city.”
As an industry, manufacturing provides above-average compensation and gives workers the financial stability they need to take out a mortgage, build a family, and prepare for retirement. These are not dead-end, minimum-wage jobs that are only meant to hold workers through their early years while they finish college.
Manufacturing Jobs are growing as Companies Move Their Production Back to America
Shortly after highlighting how manufacturing jobs grow the middle class by adding jobs that pay a living wage, Dan Rodricks asked Marlin’s CEO what he thought about the manufacturing industry’s outlook.
Drew Greenblatt responded by saying that, “I’m very optimistic about American manufacturing… Volvo announced that they’re going to build in South Carolina this morning a 500 million dollar plant; they’re going to have 4,000 employees. And these are not minimum-wage jobs, they’re going to be great jobs.”
With the addition of this plant, the manufacturing industry is adding another 4,000 high-earning jobs, creating new taxpayers and consumers with disposable income who will be adding to the economy of the state of South Carolina.
Manufacturers Need a Reason to Start Reshoring Their Production to America
After the host expressed some concern about the pay scale of the jobs, Drew responded with, “No, these are going to be middle-class workers. The problem is this: South Carolina won it. We have to be the place that companies come to. We have to create a platform, a culture where it’s a no-brainer and you’ve got to open up in Maryland.”
Manufacturing company owners, just like the owners of any other kind of business, will try to put their companies in the location that will be the most advantageous. Think of it this way, would you rather pay 15 percent on all of your company’s earnings, or 40 percent? For most business owners, the choice is pretty clear.
Naturally, there is more to consider when choosing a factory location than just the tax rates that apply to that location. Regulatory measures also count as a major concern for many manufacturing companies. The more complicated and difficult to follow regulatory standards are in a given state/country, the less desirable that location will be.
South Carolina won the Volvo plant because their regulations and tax structure were more conducive to business owners. Simply put, to make more companies open up their production centers in America, both state and federal government organizations need to reorganize and streamline regulations and taxes to be more attractive to businesses.
For an example of how regulatory standards can impact business, consider how much the average manufacturer spends on regulatory compliance per employee. In the USA, the average small business manufacturer pays $35,000 a year per employee for regulatory compliance. So, a business with 10 employees can expect to spend $350,000 a year on regulatory compliance measures.
After the discussion about how regulations and tax structures could be altered to encourage the growth of business in the Baltimore area so that new businesses don’t relocate to Canada or China, NPR host Dan Rodricks asked Marlin’s CEO an important question: “Why stay in Maryland? Why aren’t you in Charlestown?”
Here is Drew’s reply: “I’m from Maryland, I love Maryland. I want to see things change. I want to see things get better.” As important as it is to save costs and maximize profit margins, it’s also important to work to make things better not just for the company, but for the company’s employees and the community. Providing strong, stable employment opportunities for Baltimore residents is one way that Marlin Steel works to help make things better.