Americans believe restoring manufacturing — a vital but declining component of Ohio’s economy — is key to prosperity, a new national poll commissioned by an industry group found.

Meanwhile, as fears of a double-dip recession deepen, Ohio Sens. Rob Portman, a Republican, and Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, signed an urgent bipartisan appeal to the U.S. Department of Commerce to counter Chinese product dumping that hurts Ohio manufacturers including those serving the emerging renewable energy industry.

The senators say the Obama administration is taking too long to implement policy changes that could create jobs. Commerce proposed a tougher line in January but still has not implemented the change.

“Opening markets to increase American exports and vigorous enforcement of trade laws go hand-in-hand,” said Portman, who was appointed to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction on Aug. 10. “When countries such as China use unfair tax and trade laws to put U.S. companies at a disadvantage, our government must aggressively fight to change these policies.”

In response to a Daily News query, the Commerce Department said it’s still working to adjust practices to counter the dumping tactics. The agency, in a written response, said it’s focused on helping “ensure that U.S. companies are given every opportunity to compete on a level playing field and to develop the competitive strength to expand into new markets.”

A Dayton Daily News analysis found that by 2010, Ohio’s annual private payroll declined by $22 billion from total payroll in 2000, largely because of manufacturing declines from off shoring and globalization.

The policy tweak is endorsed by the Steel Manufacturers Association, the Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws and the United Steel Workers.

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