The “manufacturing innovation hubs” President Barack Obama touted in his 2013 State of the Union speech as a way to create jobs in America are reducing, not increasing, the need for unskilled workers, reports Reuters.
“A lot of the equipment can be run automatically, so it is less labor demanding,” explained Don Li, senior manager of process modeling at RTI International Metals, a company working on one of the Obama innovation hub projects.
In his 2013 State of the Union address, Obama highlighted America Makes, a 3-D printing initiative that served as the first of Obama’s innovation hubs in Youngstown, Ohio.
“Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio,” Obama said. “A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the-art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost anything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.”
However, there are now fewer manufacturing jobs in Youngstown than there were before the Obama hub was put in place. As Reuters notes, “Once [the machines] are programmed and loaded with raw materials, they work their magic with nary a human hand. If they are ever widely adopted, researchers say a big reason will be that they use less labor than traditional manufacturing.”
Obama originally asked Congress to spend $1 billion of taxpayer money to fund 15 of his “manufacturing innovation hubs,” which were the brainchild of Obama’s Economic Council chief, Gene Sperling.
In July 2013, Obama proposed tripling the number of hubs to 45 over the next 10 years.