Jobs Report Highlights Trade, Manufacturing Problems

Dave Johnson

The March jobs report is out, and the news seems pretty good at first. But when you dig deeper it is the same old story: lower-to-middle-wage job gains, many higher-wage job losses. Gains in retail and food services. But there were losses again in manufacturing. Construction and health care gained, though, which is a good sign.

Robert Borosage, writing about the jobs report in March Jobs Report: Moving Up, With No Way Out, said:

Wages remain disappointing because employers still don’t see the need to lift them to attract or keep workers. Nearly 16 million workers are still in need of full-time work. The workforce participation rate is at 63 percent, “little changed” from the previous month. For those 25-54, the rate remains at levels not seen since the 1970s, when women started entering the labor force in larger numbers. The percentage of the population that is employed or looking for work is mired at a disappointing 59.9 percent.

Summary, more slow and steady progress recovering from the huge crash, but not enough to lift wages.

Manufacturing Lost 29,000 More Jobs In March

Here’s the big one. In an otherwise OK jobs report, America’s manufacturing sector lost 29,000 jobs in March. This comes after a loss of jobs in February as well. So, no resulting upward pressure on wages.

Our country’s “deindustrialization” trade policies, which includes a “strong dollar” policy, are at the root of this problem. Also, our intentional lack of a national manufacturing/industrial/economic policy and plan hold back the growth of good-paying jobs and allow our manufacturing ecosystem to whither away. Scott Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), discussed this in Major Manufacturing Job Losses Continue To Validate Voter Worries,

“March’s bleak jobs report shows why so many voters are angry about trade and the economy. When you look at the major economic problems facing Americans today – widening inequality, a hollowed out middle class, and people living paycheck to paycheck – it is clear why voters are asking for trade solutions.

“With 29,000 manufacturing jobs lost last month, it is clear this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. China’s massive industrial overcapacity, currency manipulation, and our growing China trade deficit continue to tip the scales, and it’s laid-off U.S. factory workers who pay the price. That’s not right. American manufacturers can outcompete anyone in the world, but they need a level playing field.

“We’ll never experience a true manufacturing job resurgence in the United States unless we get a lot tougher with China and policy enforcement. That’s something many Michigan and Ohio voters in both parties got behind, and it is sure to be a principle Wisconsinites will stand up for at the polls next week.”

AAMeter

President Obama has set a goal of creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs during his second term. AAM’s #AAMeter tracks the progress toward this goal. It now sits at +331,000 jobs. That means there would need to be over 74,000 new manufacturing jobs created each month for Obama to hit his goal.

Clinton Announcing Manufacturing Investment Plan

Presidential candidate Sec. Hillary Clinton announces a new manufacturing plan today in Syracuse. Reuters reports on this in “Hillary Clinton to propose $10 billion manufacturing investment“:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Friday will propose a $10 billion investment in partnerships to encourage the growth of the U.S. manufacturing sector as part of a national push to discourage outsourcing in the industry.

The proposal would work with a broader campaign to encourage companies to build and expand their U.S. manufacturing operations.

…The campaign said the proposal’s multi-billion dollar price tag would largely be covered by Clinton’s proposed “clawback” tax, which would rescind tax relief for companies that outsource jobs or facilities abroad.

$10 billion is a very modest investment in manufacturing, in a $16-$17 trillion economy.

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