Manufacturing Jobs Down In Bleak December Jobs Report

Dave Johnson

Friday’s dismal jobs report showed that manufacturing jobs increased by 9,000 in December, after adding 17,000 jobs in October and 31,000 in November. In all of 2013, manufacturers added 77,000 new workers.

According to the National association of Manufacturers Shopfloor blog, we’re talking gains in “food manufacturing” and “nondurable goods” and here and there, plus losses elsewhere:

In December, both durable and nondurable goods firms added workers on net, up 6,000 and 3,000, respectively, from November. The largest monthly gains were in the following sectors: food manufacturing (up 5,300), fabricated metal products (up 5,000), transportation equipment (up 3,800), primary metals (up 3,500), petroleum and coal products (up 1,600), and plastics and rubber products (up 1,600).

Some notable sectors with declining employment for the month included computer and electronic products (down 2,400), printing and related support activities (down 2,200), chemicals (down 1,800), nonmetallic mineral products (down 1,500), and furniture and related products (down 1,200).

Also average hours worked and average weekly earnings were down slightly.

Obama’s Goal: One Million New Manufacturing Jobs

President Obama announced a goal of creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs by 2017 (after we lost 5.1 million in the 2000s decade – 2.1 million of those to the China trade deficit.)

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is tracking progress toward the President’s goal using their #AAMeter.

AAM’s President Scott Paul commented on the weak jobs report:

“Talk of a manufacturing resurgence is very premature. The last two years were very weak for manufacturing employment, and 2014 won’t be much better unless Congress and the administration get their collective acts together. Now that the Federal Reserve had signaled a ‘tapering’ of its monetary stimulus, a jobs plan must be priority number one. That means public investment in infrastructure, research, and worker training; a focus on cutting the trade deficit by passing currency reform legislation; and enacting a manufacturing plan along the lines of what Senate Democrats have proposed.”

Why So Bleak?

Our country has a huge trade deficit. A trade deficit is orders going out from our country to companies in other countries, instead of to companies in our country.

The fact that the trade is not balanced means that orders are not coming back from those countries to companies in our country. And that directly translates to the loss of jobs, factories and economic growth that we are experiencing. It is not the budget deficit that causes this, it is the trade deficit.

Even though the recently announced November trade deficit was down, the trade deficit was still $435.1 billion the first 11 months of 201, down 12 percent from $496.3 billion for the same period a year earlier.

Here is why the jobs and economy situation is so bleak: A $435 billion (11 months) trade deficit means that $435 billion of orders went to companies in other countries that would have gone to companies inside the U.S. if our trade was balanced. If you can picture how many jobs $435 billion of additional orders would bring to our economy, you are picturing the damage done by that trade deficit.

The 2012 trade deficit was $540.4 billion. What would our economy be like today if $540 billion in additional orders had come in to American companies in 2012? THAT is what unbalanced trade with China and other countries, and these “free” trade-deficit agreements, are doing to our economy. THAT is why our job and wage and prosperity situation is so bleak.

Don’t call them trade agreements; call them trade-deficit agreements.

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