Ned Hill opines on state of Ohio/US economy

Posted: November 29, 2016

Ned Hill, OMI faculty and professor of Public Administration and City & Regional Planning at The Ohio State University, provided post election analysis on a range of topics.  Those that relate to manufacturing follow, in order of appearance:

1) "Factory towns felt left behind by Clinton, says Ohio State manufacturing economist," Columbus Business First (11/9/16)

But in the last few weeks Hill began to think Trump could prove everyone's prediction of a Clinton victory wrong. Hill, a professor of public affairs and city and regional planning at Ohio State University's John Glenn College of Public Affairs, has spent his career studying manufacturing in the kinds of factory towns to which Trump spoke.

Clinton did not understand the fear and anger of blue-collar Ohio.

"This is a group of people that thought they had a social contract and that contact was torn up," Hill said Wednesday, hours after Trump was declared the winner over Clinton in the race for the White House. "And they don't have anything in its place."

2) "Will Trump’s victory be good for Ohio businesses? It all depends," Columbus Dispatch (11/9/16)

“The single-most-important thing is the future of NAFTA and the future of the North American trading bloc, because that’s enormously important for Ohio,” said Ned Hill, an Ohio State University economist.

Hill cites Honda as an example of a major employer that stands to lose if Trump follows through on his talk about trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Honda has assembly plants in Marysville and East Liberty, and it also has factories in Mexico and Canada. A Honda spokesman had no comment.

Hill’s larger worry is that Trump does not seem to have a clear economic worldview. That leaves companies guessing about his priorities.

3) "Ned Hill offers some thoughts on what's next in manufacturing," Crain’s Cleveland Business (11/16/16)

Though he made it clear that the word of the moment for the economy is uncertainty, he tried to give attendees at Magnet's State of Manufacturing 2016 event at Jergens Inc. in Cleveland an idea of what's ahead.

Some key takeaways:

- There aren't as many manufacturing jobs in the U.S. as they were in the '70s, but the U.S. was second only to China in terms of output in 2014.

- Who took the jobs? Technology, essentially.

6) "Many Trump foes eager to see him act on NAFTA,  But economists warn against protectionism," Toledo Blade (11/20/16)

Many economists see NAFTA as a scapegoat for job losses that have more to do with efficiencies, such as robotics and obsolete plants being closed.

Ned Hill, professor of public affairs and city and regional planning at Ohio State University, said a withdrawal from NAFTA will drive business to Vietnam and Thailand because of the need for low-cost labor.

“If their goal is to raise trade barriers to any country that has a labor cost advantage over the U.S., two things are going to happen: There’s going to be a trade war and the American consumer is going to revolt” because of the suddenly high cost of products, he said.

8) "Democrats Don’t Have an Easy Answer for the Rust Belt," The Atlantic (11/25/16)

The biggest problem Democrats face now, and will face in the future, is that there are no simple solutions to the economic crisis in the Rust Belt. Democrats have tried, with proposals like infrastructure projects, science and technology education, and tax credits for companies that offer apprenticeships, but few of the policy prescriptions that could begin the process of getting millions of white, working-class men back to work are very sexy. “There’s no silver bullet,” Ned Hill, a professor at Ohio State University and the faculty affiliate for the Ohio Manufacturing Institute, told me. “This is an adult conversation so easy answers aren’t there.”

Hill says that one way to create jobs in the Rust Belt is to bolster apprenticeship programs so that unskilled workers can get trained in some of the hundreds of thousands of jobs now going unfilled. Another is to model the manufacturing system on the one in Germany, where public-private institutes translate research into potential commercial products, and detailed educational pathways help train students for jobs that will be in demand. “We’ve lost the ability to train a sophisticated manufacturing workforce,” he said. One-fifth of the German workforce is employed in manufacturing—double the U.S.’s share.

9) "Trump’s trade talk more likely to bring recession than jobs," Columbus Dispatch (11/27/16)

Ohio, often portrayed as the center of the Rust Belt, a region of abandoned factories, has increased its gross domestic product from $480 billion in 1997 to $608 billion measured in 2015 dollars.

“It’s automation, and if we didn’t automate, the American consumer would vote with their feet and buy this stuff elsewhere,” Hill said. “If you want to bring back American manufacturing to the efficiencies and technologies of 1970, try it.”

10) "Maximizing Ohio gains from Donald Trump's infrastructure plans," Cleveland Plain Dealer (11/27/16)

So, keeping Burnham in mind, how would Ohio best spend its $40-plus billion in infrastructure dollars?

We suggest Ohio officials convene right away experts from its great universities -- for instance, Ned Hill at Ohio State University and officials from the very respected urban and planning departments of Cleveland State University and Kent State University -- to ponder what would be wise.