In last week’s State of the Union address, Obama announced plans to encourage manufacturers to return to the United States and reverse a decades-long trend of offshoring manufacturing jobs to low-wage Asian countries. The devil is in the details, but the concept is not wrong. As Via Meadia has noted before, American manufacturing has had something of a resurgence of late, as rising wages in Asia have reduced the allure of offshoring.This is a good first step, but the Administration could be doing more, particularly when it comes to energy. Ensuring a cheap and reliable energy supply is one of the best things the Obama Administration can do to lure factories back to America, and there is no shortage of tools to do so. Fracking, the expansion of offshore oil drilling, and the construction of new pipelines all have the potential to revolutionize America’s energy outlook; if Obama embraced these policies, it would send a strong signal to manufacturers that he’s serious about making America as hospitable to them as possible. And reviving the mining and extracting industries in the US would create domestic customers for the kind of specialized equipment that is most likely to be made in the US.But while this is well worth pursuing, it’s no panacea for America’s economic woes. Manufacturing may see signs of life, but as the Times points out, it won’t be the kind of employment engine it was in the 20th century. American manufacturing has become increasingly automated over the past few decades, and this trend will only accelerate going forward. More than offshoring, this is the true reason for the decline of manufacturing jobs, and the high-tech, low-hiring factories of the future will continue that trend. Daydreams about an American manufacturing boom won’t put Americans back to work or save the middle class.Unfortunately.