Five Questions for Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers


The Manufacturers Council of Arizona hosted the Manufacturer of the Year awards and summit on Tuesday. Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, delivered the keynote address and later sat down with Chamber Business News to discuss several issues affecting manufacturing in Arizona and globally. national.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

CBN: You discussed in your remarks the NAM, the Arizona Chamber and the work of the Arizona Council of Manufacturers against opposing elements of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act. Why is it important for a national organization like NAM to partner with state affiliates?

Jay Timmons: State affiliates and the people who run them know their elected officials better than anyone. They’re on the ground, they’re in their communities, and they’re the respected voices of local business across the state, so having that partnership is, frankly, essential for us to get anything done in Washington.

CBN: You discussed the USMCA and its importance in your remarks and highlighted why joining the agreement is important. Explain why it is important to respect the letter and the spirit of a free trade agreement like the USMCA.

Timmons: Maximize the potential benefits for both parties. That’s the goal of a free trade agreement, to be a win-win, so that Americans have access to markets that we may not have had access to before, and that’s the same goes for our business partner, whoever he is. This leads to a stronger economy, more jobs and more opportunities.

CBN: Wage growth and employment are high, but so are interest rates. Are you concerned about an overheating economy?

Timmons: Yes. I think the Fed is doing what it needs to do. The question is, are we going to have a soft landing or are we going to land with a thump? Manufacturers want to make sure we’re paying attention to all the fundamentals and the Fed is paying attention to all the fundamentals and landing that plane as softly as possible.

Our members generally have a very optimistic view of the future. Yes, they think there might be a recession coming, but there is no consensus on whether it will be a short or long recession and how hard it will be. We obviously hope that it will be as short as possible to help the economy calm down and get us back on normal economic footing.

CBN: We have heard a lot about supply chain issues lately. We thought we had avoided a railway strike, but now it seems more uncertain. Do you have any comments on what’s happening logistically?

Timmons: If (a strike) occurs, it will be a huge crisis for manufacturers and consumers. We don’t need forced errors. You have the Biden administration, the most pro-labor administration I’ve ever known in my life, saying this is a good deal. So if they say that, I don’t know what the unions mean.

Look, I don’t know all the details, all I know is politics and if politics says you have the most pro-union administration weighing in and saying it’s a good deal, you you might want to accept it.

CBN: What is the impact of labor shortages on manufacturing and how have manufacturers responded?

Timmons: Over the past year, we have averaged 800,000 jobs in the industry each month. That’s around 500,000 pre-pandemic and the lowest we’ve seen is around 300,000 during the pandemic. We’ve always had many openings in the industry, but we just can’t find people to fill the positions. Our manufacturing institute has many programs to try to attract women, to try to attract veterans, they have apprenticeship programs.

But Creators Wanted specifically aims to inspire the next generation. It is a road tour with a triple width trailer which is an escape room concept that shows young people some of the skills, both hard and soft skills, that they need in the sector.

When these children walk through it, they may start by shuffling their feet before entering, thinking, “Why am I here? Oh, well, at least I’m not in school. They come out and they’re just electrified. You see the excitement on their faces and they say, “That could be for me.”

We then explain what jobs might be available in the sector. Some don’t need further education after high school, some may require technical training, and some may require a four-year degree or higher, but there’s something for everyone in manufacturing and our job is to make sure that young people know what is available.


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