New National Poll: Voters Blame Lawmakers for Weak Job Growth.

New National Poll: Voters Blame Lawmakers for Weak Job Growth

Bipartisan national poll finds voters overwhelmingly favor a jobs plan and a stronger manufacturing base as keys to an economic resurgence.

Washington, DC.  Voters across the political spectrum cite manufacturing job loss as a top economic concern and say it should be a priority for Congress and the White House this year, according to a new poll conducted for the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a non-partisan, non-profit partnership of leading U.S. manufacturers and the United Steelworkers (USW).  The bipartisan national poll, which was jointly conducted in January 2014 by the Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research, also found that voters see U.S. policies as the main obstacle to manufacturing job creation.

The message from voters to Washington is clear: support America’s manufacturers and focus on job creation. By an overwhelming margin, voters say job creation should be a top priority, beating out deficit reduction by a 2-1 margin (65% vs. 31%). Job creation is named as the top priority for voters of every political affiliation, above other suggested fixes, including deregulation and a loosening of trade restrictions.

“Lawmakers have a clear, bipartisan mandate from the public to take bold actions that will create jobs,” said AAM President Scott Paul. “There should be nothing stopping Washington from enacting legislation that we know can begin rebuilding our manufacturing sector and creating jobs immediately.”

Manufacturing job loss is the top concern among voters.

Manufacturing job loss ranks above taxes, the growing gap between rich and poor, education, and retirement security as voters’ top personal concern.  Voters also see manufacturing as the most important industry to the overall American economy.  In fact, 72% of likely voters are “worried the most” or a “great deal” about manufacturing job loss, a level of concern matched only by the federal budget deficit.

Voters see U.S. policies as the #1 obstacle to manufacturing job creation.

Across party lines, voters see Washington’s policies as the primary obstacle to manufacturing job creation – above automation, high costs, and a perceived shortage of skilled workers.  A large plurality (45%) blame either U.S. economic policies that encourage outsourcing (30%) or the lack of a national manufacturing strategy to compete with China and other countries (15%).  

Voters also see both the President and Congress as doing even less in 2014 to create manufacturing jobs or enforce fair trade than they did in 2012. A majority (51%) of Americans now say President Obama is doing “not too much” (23%) or “nothing at all” (28%) to create manufacturing jobs.  By contrast, in 2012 only a combined 41% responded that the president was doing “not much”/“nothing.”

Similarly, positive marks for Democrats in Congress also fell on manufacturing job creation (from 46% to 40%) and on trade enforcement (47% to 38%).  Republicans in Congress were also seen as doing less for manufacturing in 2014 than in 2012, declining on both job creation (from 39% to 28%) and trade enforcement (from 37% to 34%).

Said Paul, “Voters see politicians spend a lot of time in factories paying lip service to manufacturing workers during the election, then abandoning them later. Words matter very little to these voters; action makes the difference.”

Outsourcing, not a skills shortage, is seen as the most important cause of lost manufacturing jobs.

By a more than 2-1 margin, voters consider outsourcing, rather than a potential shortage of skilled workers, as the reason for a lack of new manufacturing jobs (65% vs. 28%).  A full 50% of voters also believe more manufacturing jobs are leaving the country than returning, and only 13% believe there is a “reshoring” trend.

China remains a serious problem as well.  By a 2-1 margin (60% vs. 30%), voters say the U.S. needs to “get tough” with countries like China in order to halt “unfair trade practices, including currency manipulation, which will keep undermining our economy.”  

Voters overwhelmingly support Buy American preferences and a national manufacturing strategy.

A whopping four out of five voters favor spending state and federal tax dollars on American-made goods whenever possible, with 67% strongly in favor.  

84% of voters also support a concerted plan to “make sure that economic, tax, education and trade policies in this country work together to help support manufacturing.”  This includes 87% of Democrats, 82% of independents, and 82% of Republicans.  And, across the political spectrum, voters strongly support: federal and state worker training programs (82%), enforcing trade agreements (79%), cracking down on unfairly subsidized imports (79%), and tax incentives for manufacturer investments (77%).

Said Paul, “Voters value manufacturing as the key to a strong economy and view it as irreplaceable.  But in order for manufacturing to thrive, we need a national strategy and policies to support innovators, makers, and workers. Far bolder actions than what many inside the Beltway seem to think: strong Buy American provisions, investments in our workforce, getting tougher with China, and enforcing our trade laws.”

“Creating a sustainable middle class and competing on a global scale are priorities for voters of every party affiliation,” Paul added. “Elected officials must do more than pay lip service to manufacturing workers. Voters want results.”

View the enitre findings here

**This is the fourth national poll commissioned by AAM.  The bipartisan survey of 1,200 likely 2014 general election voters was conducted January 6-9, 2014 by the Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research, firms that poll for Democratic and Republican candidates respectively.  The findings include results from focus groups held during November and December 2013 in Portland, OR, Des Moines, IA, and Louisville, KY.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is a non-profit, non-partisan partnership formed in 2007 by some of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers. Our mission is to strengthen American manufacturing and create new private-sector jobs through smart public policies. We believe that an innovative and growing manufacturing base is vital to America’s economic and national security, as well as to providing good jobs for future generations. AAM achieves its mission through research, public education, advocacy, strategic communications, and coalition building around the issues that matter most to America’s manufacturers and workers.

AAM has released its blueprint for an American manufacturing resurgence, ReMaking America.