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The glory days of American manufacturing are not coming back: Steven Rattner

Daily Ticker

Steven Rattner, former Obama administration car czar and chairman of Willett Advisors, caused a stir in economic circles earlier this year when he rejected the popular belief that U.S. manufacturing was back on its feet.

"We need to get real about the so-called [manufacturing] renaissance," he wrote in his January New York Times oped. "For all the hoopla, the United States has gained just 568,000 manufacturing positions since January 2010 — a small fraction of the nearly six million lost between 2000 and 2009. That’s a slower rate of recovery than for nonmanufacturing employment."

Rattner reaffirmed his position at this week's Milken Institute Global Conference.

"Manufacturing jobs are increasing more slowly than jobs in the economy as a whole," he says in the video above. There’s actually more of a renaissance in other kinds of jobs."

Related: The U.S. should encourage more manufacturing here at home: New Balance CEO

Boston Consulting Group released a report last week calling the U.S. a "rising star" of global manufacturing. The report said that "overall costs in the U.S. are 10 to 25 percent lower than those of the world's ten leading goods-exporting nations other than China" making America No. 2 in terms of manufacturing competitiveness.

Related: 'Made in America' now cheaper than made in Brazil: Boston Consulting Group

Rattner attributes the increase in U.S. manufacturing jobs to one factor.

"Yes, jobs are back, but at lower wages," he argues. "We’re not going to restore the halcyon days of American manufacturing."

Rattner proposes that U.S. corporations and government officials turn their attention to other job-producing sectors that will boost hiring - ones that "add high value and we can do better than other people."

"There are more and more countries that are not only cheaper" but also "getting more and more sophisticated" when it comes to manufacturing, he notes. "We’re not going to compete head to head on making manufactured goods with these low-cost places."

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