Our Jobs Matter
Over 5.5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the US in the last decade. This has a “rippling effect” of four to five other jobs lost. That means, in total, there have been some 30 million jobs lost. In the last six years, over six million jobs have been outsourced. Many American factories have closed their doors and laid off their workers because they could not compete with lower cost producers. Many others have moved jobs offshore to survive and compete with lower-priced foreign made alternatives. Some have downsized to cut costs and survive in the face of reduced orders.
This year and last year combined have been the worst years for jobs since World War II. Jeff Faux, economist and founding president of the Economic Policy Institute, explains “With NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, and other trade deals of the last decade, American corporations are now tapping into a global supply of workers who can be trained to do everything from design to production, maintenance to marketing.” From 1993 to 2003, the US-Mexico trade balance went from a US net positive of $4.9 billion to a US net negative of $40.6 billion.1 America’s merchandise deficit with both Mexico and Canada reached $95 billion in the same period while the US textile and apparel industry saw a loss of 740,000 jobs! The playing field is even more unlevel when we try to compete with China where labor rates are roughly $1.00 per hour. But the wage differential is only part of the story. Tax incentives to export and currency manipulation may add another 40% advantage to China factories according to many estimates.
It’s not just manufacturing jobs that are in danger. If you are a technician, IT specialist, research scientist, or engineer, your job most likely can be performed by someone overseas at a significantly lower wage. Scientific groups have been warning the US that it will lose its research and development capabilities if they lose the manufacturing industry, and they were right. Now many of the innovative research and technological breakthroughs take place in China, leaving American scientists and engineers behind.
Susan Butts, the senior director of external sciences and technology programs at Dow Chemical, said “the federal government can fund all the R&D it wants but if the United States innovation system discourages an invention from being manufactured in the United States, then American industry will not generate the taxes that fund the federal investment in research.”2
Today, American workers have to fight to keep their jobs. Only about 11 million people still make things in the US which is the lowest since 1941. American producers cannot compete on price but we can still compete on quality, safety, service, durability and speed to market. American workers and companies recycle money back into our economy and our consumers must realize this. If you want to keep our jobs on American soil, support American made products and companies.
1 Lovett, William, et al, US Trade Policy: History , Theory and the WTO, “US Trade History.” By Alfred Eckes, page 130.
2 McCormack, Richard, (2009) The Plight of American Manufacturing. In R. McCormack, Manufacturing a Better Future for America (pg. 11)