By Paul Noe
Vice President, Public Policy
As we recognize National Forest Products Week (October 15 -21), let’s take a moment to highlight our industry’s enormous contribution to manufacturing and underscore the American Forest & Paper Association’s (AF&PA) mission to help it grow through common-sense, fact-based public policy.
The forest products industry accounts for approximately four percent of total U.S. manufacturing GDP and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers. We produce over $200 billion in products annually and employ 900,000 men and women in rural and urban communities across 45 states. We meet a payroll of approximately $50 billion per year and support about 2.4 million jobs.
The American free enterprise system has been one of the greatest engines for prosperity and liberty in history, and it can deliver a promising future for the USA and the world. The U.S. manufacturing sector has been a key driver of this success, with the highest economic multiplier of any economic sector, and contributing12% of US GDP, or $2.17 trillion. Manufacturing also supports about one in six private sector jobs (18.5 million), and the average annual compensation for full-time equivalent worker ($79,553) is 24% higher than the average American worker.
But, the U.S. also faces growing challenges in an increasingly competitive global economy. Large swaths of the American economy have been distorted by regulatory mandates and incentives, with an average of 3500 new federal rules each year contributing to an invisible tax on the order of $2 trillion annually by some estimates. Manufacturers spend almost $20,000 per employee to comply with regulations -- nearly double the cost for all U.S. businesses. And too often, manufacturers that want to expand are stymied by cumbersome permitting processes.
Poorly-designed regulations may cause more harm than good; stifle innovation, growth and job creation; waste limited resources; undermine sustainable development; and erode the public’s confidence in government. On the other hand, when sensible, evidence-based regulations respond to compelling public need, such as material failures of private markets, they can provide vital benefits, such as the protection of the environment, public health and safety, civil rights, consumers and investors.
AF&PA supports regulation and a regulatory system that does more good than harm. If we need to regulate, our goal should be sustainable regulation – regulation that remedies gaps in our free market system and addresses economic needs, environmental concerns and social expectations. There is no better place for a robust manufacturing sector than the United States, which has productive workers, creative entrepreneurs and innovators, abundant resources, a strong democratic legal system, and regulatory agencies capable of smarter regulation.
Smarter regulation can liberate the creativity and competition that produce economic growth, jobs and opportunity for us all.