Tags: reich | job | employment

Reich: Manufacturing Jobs Aren't Coming Back

Sunday, 19 Feb 2012 04:37 PM

Former Secretary of Labor and economist Robert Reich says trying to recoup manufacturing jobs that have moved overseas is a waste of time and energy.

"The real issue isn’t how to get manufacturing back,” Reich writes in his blog. “It’s how to get good jobs and good wages back."

"They aren’t at all the same thing."

Reich says creating good jobs for the majority of Americans who lack four-year college degrees is the real challenge.

"Even if we didn’t have to compete with lower-wage workers overseas, we’d still have fewer factory jobs because the old assembly line has been replaced by numerically-controlled machine tools and robotics. Manufacturing is going high-tech."

The small boomlet created by American consumers’ pent-up demand for appliances, cars, and trucks, set off a wave of hope, mixed with nostalgic patriotism, that American manufacturing could be coming back, Reich notes.

“Clint Eastwood’s Super Bowl ‘Halftime in America’ hit the mood exactly,” he says, but manufacturing jobs that have moved offshore won’t be coming back.

"Although 404,000 manufacturing jobs have been added since January 2010, that still leaves us with 5.5 million fewer factory jobs today than in July 2000 – and 12 million fewer than in 1990," Reich explains. "The long-term trend is fewer and fewer factory jobs."

Manufacturing used to supply lots of middle-class-income-type jobs, because factory workers were represented by unions powerful enough to get high wages.

“That’s no longer the case,” Reich says. “Even the once-mighty United Auto Workers has been forced to accept pay packages for new hires at the Big Three that provide half what new hires got a decade ago.”

“The fundamental problem isn’t the decline of American manufacturing, and reviving manufacturing won’t solve it. The problem is the declining power of American workers to share in the gains of the American economy.”

Bloomberg reports that Labor Department figures show that manufacturing payrolls increased 50,000 last month, exceeding the most optimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News survey and capping the largest two-year gain since 1985.

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Sunday, 19 Feb 2012 04:37 PM
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