The Obama administration is downplaying President-elect Donald Trump's announcement that he and Vice President-elect Mike Pence had brokered a deal to save as many as 1,000 jobs at Carrier's Indianapolis factory, but economic analyst Steve Rattner said Thursday thousands of manufacturing jobs have been lost over the past year.
Further, Rattner told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" panel, Trump and other officials are not addressing the issue of continually declining wages.
"We created in this country 1.8 million jobs so far this year," Rattner told the panel, asking how many of those jobs were in manufacturing.
His fellow panelists threw out several positive figures, including 50,000 created manufacturing jobs, but they were all wrong.
"Negative 62,000," said Rattner, who served as lead adviser to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry in 2009 for the Obama administration. "We actually lost 62,000 manufacturing jobs."
On Wednesday, White House Press Spokesman Josh Earnest commented on the Carrier jobs, but said if Trump succeeds in a similar jobs achievement 804 more times, "then he will meet the record of manufacturing jobs that were created in the United States while president Obama was in office."
"When Josh Earnest talks about manufacturing jobs being created, he's technically correct, but at a much slower rate than we did before," Rattner said. "Let's talk about what's going on out there. We've been bleeding manufacturing jobs in the whole country going from 20 million jobs back in 2000 to 12.3 million today."
Ohio, he continued, "had a million manufacturing jobs back in the day and it's now down to fewer than 700,000."
And while automation has been blamed for some of the job losses, that's not the only issue, said Rattner.
"When you look at what's happened, for example, to manufacturing jobs in Mexico, which have gone up very, very substantially over the same period of time, it's hard to believe that automation is all of it," said Rattner. "Automation was a big part of it in the earlier period, when we became more efficient. Lately when we become less efficient, automation hasn't played as much of a role."
However, declining wages is a huge issue, and Trump "hasn't really talked about of suggested what he would do about it," said Rattner, and there's "nothing really in anybody's plan, pretty much, for how to resolve this.
For example, in Michigan, which has had its auto manufacturing plants hit hard, manufacturing workers were earning an average of $28 an hour in 2003, said Rattner. "This has dropped. After you adjust for inflation, it has dropped to $20 an hour today."
There is also the issue of wage competition. Currently, the average manufacturing job wage in the United States is about $38 an hour, Rattner said, including benefits, but workers in countries like Mexico and China make much less.
"That's pretty consistent with what other developed countries, Germany, France, the UK, and so on," Rattner said. "But when you get down to Mexico and China, you see very different numbers. You see $5.90 in Mexico. $4.12 in China. When I talk to business executives, manufacturing executives, the fact is that those workers have become very, very productive."
Currently Ford is placing a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico to make small cars because "you cannot make small cars in America at our wage rates on a cost-effective basis," said Rattner.
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