Here is a post-Covid-19 challenge for Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan: In the next 10 years, the United States should try to move back just a quarter of overall production away from Asia and the greater China region. That could not only affect preparedness for a subsequent crisis but also restore America’s position as a global manufacturer and a bastion of good jobs.
The United States has fallen behind in many areas of advanced manufacturing, like 5G and the most cutting-edge computer chips. Instead of creating these manufacturing jobs, the economy is adding poorly paid service jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation that will add the most jobs over the next decade will be for “home health and personal care aides,” which pays about $25,000 a year. Other high-wage countries such as Germany and Switzerland have increased their high-end manufacturing. The United States should aspire to do the same.
It can be done. America is still the world’s second-largest manufacturer, and has retained pockets of the needed skills, from the shop floor to management of production. It doesn’t have to start from scratch.
But one glaring thing is missing: powerful, sustainable demand for goods made in the United States.