Business and Industry

Federal Government Assigns Itself the Task of Reviving Manufacturing

Because it's so good at picking winners


Some of the manufacturing states hardest hit by the recession are climbing back with the help of the very thing that snuffed out so many jobs in the first place: advanced technology. …

But some are skeptical that new technologies such as additive manufacturing will create many jobs.  "It looks like a new way of fabricating things that will involve relatively few people and a lot of computers," says Don Grimes, senior research specialist at University of Michigan.

Other critics say the federal government is ill-equipped to choose which technologies are likely to take off and create jobs. "The risk is, especially if the government picks them, that they are picked for political reasons, rather than economic reasons," says Harry C. Moser, president of the Reshoring Initiative, an industry-led effort to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. "The government has shown that it's not at all very good at picking products, like Solyndra," referring to the now-bankrupt California solar company that won millions in federal clean energy subsidies.