Review of manufacturing regs needs a push

One of the loudest screams from the manufacturing sector is that federal regulations hamstring U.S. companies by imposing additional rules and additional costs on the manufacturing process. Now the White House has promised to review regulatory reform in a timely fashion, and that's earning praise from National Association of Manufacturers.


One of the loudest screams from the manufacturing sector is that federal regulations hamstring U.S. companies by imposing additional rules and additional costs on the manufacturing process. Now the White House has promised to review regulatory reform in a timely fashion, and that's earning praise from National Association of Manufacturers.

"We commend the administration's selection of regulations to be reviewed along with the timetable that's been set," NAM President and CEO Gov. John Engler said. "In a fiercely competitive environment, we need a sensible set of regulations that allow America's entrepreneurs and businesses to compete in the global economy."

A recent study by the NAM found that the cost of doing business in the U.S. is 22 percent higher than the second most expensive country due to high taxation, regulation, heath care and other structural costs.

NAM Vice President for Regulatory and Competition Policy Lawrence A. Fineran added that manufacturers have been disproportionately burdened by regulation. "Regulations disproportionately impact the manufacturing sector," he said. A 2001 report issued by the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration found that per employee regulatory costs of general businesses with fewer than 20 employees were $6,975 per employee, while per employee regulatory costs for a manufacturer with fewer than 20 employees were $16,920.

"Regulations that are understandable, achievable and up-to-date are critical to job growth and a strong economy," said Engler. "Achieving necessary regulatory reform is good for manufacturers, good for their employees, and great for America."

One place for manufacturers to begin is by having a conversation with their local U.S. Representative. Change comes slowly—unless it is prodded forward by a regional and local emphasis on the issue from concerned manufacturers. This ultimately isn't a political issue—both sides of the aisle have been campaigning on job growth. What's needed is a sense of urgency for political leaders, and that will come from labor and management getting together on the issue of reducing external costs in the manufacturing plant.

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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

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