Are Manufacturing Exports the Key to Recovery?

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In President Obama's speech in Japan over the weekend, he stressed the need to increase US manufacturing exports in order to create new, well-paying American jobs:

[T]his new strategy will mean saving more and spending less, reforming our financial system and reducing our long-term deficit. It will also mean a greater emphasis on exports that we can build, produce, and sell all over the world. For America, this is a jobs strategy. Right now, our exports support millions upon millions of well-paying American jobs. Increasing those exports by just a small amount has the potential to create millions more. These are jobs making everything from wind turbines and solar panels to the technology you use every day.

The Japan speech was not the first time that Obama mentioned exports as a key to future American job growth. Just two weeks ago at a meeting of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board, he spoke about "export-driven growth, manufacturing growth, growth that pays high wages and provides high living standards for a broad-based middle class."

Clearly, exports, and the manufacturing jobs they create, are an integral part of the administration's jobs strategy. But is that a wise approach? The facts seem to say "no."

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