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Event recap—Reimagining industrial policy for the service and tech sectors

September 30, 2022
Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo

On September 28, 2022, The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution hosted an in-person and livestreamed event, “Reimagining Industrial Policy for the Service and Tech Sectors,” exploring how the modernization of industrial policy can support economic growth.

The event accompanied the release of two new Hamilton Project proposals on modernizing U.S. industrial policy to create good jobs and to establish a program for critical technology analytics, as well as a set of economic facts on the service sector.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin opened the event with introductory remarks, followed by a fireside chat with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Alex Burns of POLITICO. Sec. Raimondo emphasized the need for investment in both new technology and in workers themselves. “In order to compete, we need to invest in our people so they can be maximally innovative and productive,” she said during her discussion with Burns. “Fifty-seven percent of college degrees go to women, yet we do not make the investments required to fully tap into [their] talent and productivity.”

A roundtable discussion moderated by Eric Schmidt (Schmidt Futures) followed, with panelists discussing how innovations in tech can promote job growth. “If you look at today’s technology, there is a lot of economic value creation that we can and should be capturing for the American economy,” Sameera Fazili (National Economic Council) said. “What we need are new ways for public-private collaboration to move forward—to pull out the data.”

The panelists highlighted ideas from a new Hamilton Project proposal by Erica R.H. Fuchs (Carnegie Mellon University), “Building the Analytic Capacity to Support Critical Technology Strategy.” “My research shows that we need not choose between security and jobs, or health,” Fuchs said during the panel. “We can identify win-win critical technology investments that advance national security, economic competitiveness, and the social well-being of all citizens.”

Hamilton Project Director Wendy Edelberg moderated the following panel, which featured Mary Kay Henry (SEIU) and Dani Rodrik (Harvard Kennedy School). “The only way we can significantly achieve an increase in good jobs is by enhancing the productivity of those jobs,” said Rodrik, whose new proposal, “An Industrial Policy for Good Jobs,” focuses on service-sector workers.

The panelists noted how local policy initiatives will have to address complications arising in larger service industries like fast food, retail, and long-term care. “There’s a scale to this problem,” Henry said during the discussion. “We can innovate around the edges, but it really is more about if we’re going to decide that it’s part of our global competitiveness.”

Schmidt summed up the significance of the new policy proposals as he closed the first panel discussion. “We have a new generation of thinkers and leaders who sweated the details and got the smaller things right,” he said. “That’s why I’m optimistic that this is going to work.”