Production on the rise, and yet…
The discussion of US manufacturing jobs or the lack of same makes for a great argument during election time. And it doesn’t really matter what side of the fence you ride. Candidates pound their fists and raise their voices and you’d think China was stealing bids on jobs during the dead of night or something. Hey we can use a scapegoat. It helps deflect the realities but the truth lies somewhere in between: slowly but surely, production is rising back in the US.
Automation is phasing out these jobs
Manufacturing is becoming more and more automated. Automation may be the wave of the future but it takes jobs away and what’s worse these displaced workers aren’t being re-directed into other areas of production as a way to utilize their skills. Studies show that the United States has lost more than 4.5 million manufacturing jobs since NAFTA took effect in 1994 and those jobs aren’t coming back any time soon.
A double-edged sword
In 1994 there were 3.5 million more Americans working in manufacturing than in retail. According to an article on Fivethirtyeight.com, today, those numbers have almost exactly reversed, and the gap is widening. More than 80 percent of all private jobs, reports Bls.gov, are now in the service sector.
Ensuring employment for manufacturers
Avoidance may be the only solution. None of the candidates seems to be offering up any tangible solutions. At least nothing that we all haven’t heard of before. Adds NY Times economist Eduardo Porter, “Candidates ought to be talking about ways to ensure that the service sector can fill manufacturing’s former role as a provider of dependable, decent-paying jobs.”
I’m not sure when that will ever happen, but until it does it makes for spirited discussion among Presidential hopefuls.