Biden touts manufacturing jobs, as industry pushes for more action in State of the Union follow

The US added a net 214,000 manufacturing jobs since February 2020

President Biden delivered his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night and touted the growth of the manufacturing sector.

Early in his speech, Biden said that the "middle class was hollowed out" for decades and that "too many good-paying manufacturing jobs moved overseas. Factories at home closed down." He claimed that his administration has "already created 800,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs, the fastest growth in 40 years" and asked, "Where is it written that America can't lead the world in manufacturing again?"

Biden reiterated that talking point while speaking about the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, a bill he signed into law in August 2022 that contained $50 billion in subsidies for semiconductor manufacturers to build more chip fabrication plants in America. In those remarks, Biden claimed, "We've already created 800,000 manufacturing jobs even without this law."


President Biden delivers remarks on the economy in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The bulk of the 800,000 figure Biden cited came from the recovery of jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) dating back to February 2020 — just before the pandemic-induced lockdowns began in earnest and triggered widespread layoffs — indicates that the U.S. manufacturing sector has added a net of 214,000 manufacturing jobs since that time. Those net gains put the manufacturing sector in sixth place of the 14 major sectors tracked by the BLS in terms of job growth since February 2020. 

Biden also claimed that the CHIPS Act will "create hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the country" and said that companies "have announced more than $300 billion in investments in American manufacturing in the last two years." Among those, the president cited a semiconductor factory that Intel is building outside of Columbus, Ohio, which he said will 10,000 jobs, including 7,000 construction jobs and 3,000 jobs once the factories are finished.


Bulldozer works in a dirt field with water behind it

A construction crew works near the new Intel semiconductor manufacturing plant construction site in Johnstown, Ohio, on, Aug. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon / AP Images)

Manufacturers respond

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a press release the president "should be commended for the historic, bipartisan accomplishments of the past two years — including the infrastructure law and the CHIPS and Science Act. These measures are already making life better and spurring new manufacturing jobs."

He urged the Biden administration to work with Congress to "build on that progress by tackling immigration reform in a smart, bipartisan way." Timmons said there are "millions of people ready to work in the U.S." and "manufacturers have hundreds of thousands of unfilled jobs".

"Not only is the broken immigration system creating a border crisis, but it is also standing the way of a stronger economy for every American," Timmons said.


Workers on BMW assembly line

Employees work in the battery assembly hall at the BMW Spartanburg plant in Greer, South Carolina, on Oct. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford / AP Newsroom)

Timmons took issue with some of the Biden administration's policies, saying that the president "misses the mark in not recognizing that the historic tax reforms of 2017 and the previous administration's efforts to promote regulatory certainty helped lay the foundation for the recent success in creating jobs, increasing investment and raising wages."

During his State of the Union address, Biden touted a cap on the cost of insulin for seniors on Medicare at $35 a month and blamed "Big Pharma" for "unfairly charging people hundreds of dollars — and making record profits." He also noted his administration's tax increases on corporations, including a 15% corporate minimum tax and a tax on stock buybacks, while blasting Big Oil for bringing in record profits.

Timmons said that some of those policies have missed the mark: "Instead of the Biden administration's misguided suggestions for restrictions on pharmaceutical innovation and for destructive tax increases, Congress should immediately reinstate critical tax deductions for the costs of research, machinery purchases and key business investments."


"Restoring these tools is essential to keep up the pace of manufacturing job creation and to out-innovate and outcompete China," he continued. "And to truly unleash manufacturing investment, fully realize the potential of the infrastructure law and achieve energy security in America, we need a smarter, balanced approach to regulations and significant permitting reform so that projects don’t languish for years in a bureaucratic mess just waiting for government approvals. After all, manufacturers are already making great strides in reducing emissions. Now is not the time to add top-down air regulations that will cost us jobs and snarl supply chains."