The U.S. economy was preeminent in the 20th century: the largest, most productive, and most competitive in the world. New products were invented and sold, the workforce was the most educated in the world, and soaring incomes supported a large and thriving middle class.
Today, the U.S. economy remains the largest in the world. However, the United States has arrived at an important moment with regard to its competitive future; the country is now faced with the tremendous opportunities and challenges of competing in an increasingly interconnected world. U.S. citizens have been hit by stagnating job growth and falling incomes, while businesses have faced increasing global competition.
This report starts by exploring some areas of concern, and by taking a look at how the United States has made key investments in the past to support competitiveness and innovation. Learn more by watching the video below, or go straight to the materials on this topic located on your right.
“The key to our success – as it has always been – will be to compete by developing new products, by generating new industries, by maintaining our role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation. It’s absolutely essential to our future.” — President Barack Obama, November 17, 2010
Federally funded research and development (R&D) has resulted in innovations and discoveries that led to the creation of new companies and entire industries making Americans more prosperous, healthier, and safer. Although it has helped spawn many inventions that, in turn, have led to new firms, new industries, and new jobs, Federal funding of R&D cannot drive innovation by itself.
Healthy private sector participation in every stage of R&D is critical in turning great ideas into revenues, profits, and ultimately jobs. However working together, the private sector, the federal government, and universities and research labs create a healthy research “ecosystem” that provides the optimal amount of social benefits of R&D, while actively supporting the commercialization of new products and ideas. Watch the video below to find out more, or explore the materials related to this topic on your right.
If we want to win the future – if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas – then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.” —President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, January 25, 2011
Our nation’s education system has been a key driver of the United States’ economic success. However, as other countries are catching up, and even surpassing us in some areas, to stay competitive the United States must reverse these trends and continue to lead the world by providing a world class education to its citizens.
In particular the specific skills embodied in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education fuel the innovative processes that are especially valuable to our economy. This part of the report compares the United States to other nations on key measures of education, with a particular focus on STEM. Furthermore, it outlines the diverse and critical role of the Federal government in building a skilled and competitive workforce. Watch the video below for more, or explore the materials on this topic on your right.
“It's the broadband networks beneath us and the wireless signals around us, the local networks in our schools and hospitals and businesses, and the massive grids that power our nation. It's the classified military and intelligence networks that keep us safe, and the World Wide Web that has made us more interconnected than at any time in human history.” — President Barack Obama, Remarks on Securing Our Nation’s Cyber Infrastructure, May 29, 2009
Infrastructure improves the lives of individuals every day, providing electricity and water, the roads and public transportation, and telecommunications networks. Businesses rely on much of that same infrastructure and cannot compete if they lack efficient ways to connect with other businesses and consumers, whether in the same town or across the globe.
In the past, the United States led the way in key areas of infrastructure development, from the railroad system of the 1800’s to an air transportation system that enabled unprecedented personal mobility and access to global products and services. The United States must still be mindful about the condition of its existing infrastructure, while investing in the infrastructure needs of the future. This part of the report explores the federal role in providing a 21st century infrastructure. Watch the video below for more, or explore the materials related to this topic on the right.
“Build it here. Sell it everywhere.” –John E. Bryson, Secretary of Commerce, December 15, 2011
A thriving manufacturing sector in the United States is crucial to its future competitive strength. Throughout its history, manufacturing has been a source of prosperity, innovation, and pride for the United States. Manufacturing pays higher than average wages, provides the bulk of U.S. exports, contributes substantially to U.S. R&D, and protects national security.
While manufacturing continues to play a vital role in the U.S. economy and provides millions of American jobs, the U.S. manufacturing sector has faced significant challenges in recent decades. Manufacturing employment in particular has seen a substantial drop over the past twenty years. This chapter explores recent manufacturing trends, and the government’s role in supporting manufacturing in the past and moving forward. Watch the video below to find out more, or explore the materials on this topic on the right.
Increasing the competitiveness and the capacity of the United States to innovate goes beyond improving research, education, infrastructure, and the manufacturing sector. Many other factors can also lead to success, but perhaps chief among them is ensuring that both established firms and entrepreneurs in the private sector have the best possible environment in which to innovate.
This part of the report explores the following areas that help provide a good environment for private sector innovation:
Watch the video below for more, or explore the materials related to these topics on the right.
Throughout its history, the United States has faced numerous challenges that have threatened its economic growth and prosperity. The United States always has been able to meet and overcome these challenges, and in so doing, increase the standard of living of its citizens.
This part of the report explores some of the policy tools that will allow the United States to address and meet the challenges it faces today.
This seection provides more information on the following ten key policy proposals:
1. Continue to increase and sustain government funding for basic research
2. Enhance and extend the R&D tax credit
3. Speed the movement of ideas from basic science labs to commercial application
4. Address STEM shortcomings
5. Increase spectrum for wireless communications
6. Increase access to data to help spur innovation
7. Coordinate federal support for manufacturing
8. Continue and strengthen efforts to foster regional clusters and entrepreneurship
9. Promote America's exports and improve access to foreign markets
10. Ensure that the conditions exist in which private enterprise can thrive
Watch the video below for more information, or explore the materials on this topic on the right.