Americans Still See Manufacturing as Key to Job Creation

“Keeping manufacturing jobs from going overseas” is the top recommendation Americans give as the best way to create more jobs in the U.S. Many also suggest reducing government regulation, lowering taxes, creating more infrastructure work and improving education.

These responses, from a May 3-7 Gallup poll, are generally similar to what Gallup found when it asked this open-ended question in 2009 and 2011 — except education, which is mentioned more frequently this year than in the past.

Although Donald Trump stressed retaining and restoring manufacturing jobs in the U.S. while he was a presidential candidate, the idea is not new for Americans. Retaining and restoring manufacturing jobs also topped Americans’ recommendation list in 2009 and 2011.

The suggestions to lower taxes and create more infrastructure work were also among the top ideas in the previous two polls. However, Americans today are somewhat more likely to mention reducing government regulation as the best way to create jobs (12%) than they were in 2009 (7%), the year President Barack Obama and a Democratic-led Congress passed a number of new regulations in response to the financial crisis.

Also, substantially more Americans say improving education is the best way to create jobs now than said this in 2009, 10% versus 3%. Recent Gallup research shows that a significant segment of workers today are worried about their jobs being eliminated by technology, artificial intelligence, automation or robots in the future. Additionally, much of the highly publicized growth in jobs in recent decades has come from technology entrepreneurs harnessing computers, software and high tech. Both developments underscore the potential of education to create new jobs.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Americans generally perceived Trump as a strong candidate in the area of job creation. That may have resulted partly from Trump’s emphasis on jobs as a major theme of his campaign but also, as these findings show, several of the job-generating policies Trump promoted were ones that a sizable portion of the public judged to be effective.

The majority of the ideas Americans offer as ways to create jobs would require government action. In addition to lowering taxes, spending on infrastructure and reducing regulation, these include helping small businesses, placing higher taxes on imports and reducing welfare.

Other suggestions would be more likely to require action in the corporate arena — including boosting middle-class wages and creating more “green jobs.”

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