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08/14/2015

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It's true that we've lost a lot of manufacturing jobs since St. Ronald of Reagan left office. In 1988, his last full year, there were 17.9 million workers in manufacturing, as compared to 12.2 million in 2014. That loss of 5.7 million manufacturing jobs amounts to a 32% drop, or about a third. I wouldn't characterize a decline of one-third as "nearly half," but I suppose such things are in the eye of the beholder.

It's instructive to see under which administrations the losses occurred. As it happens, 4.5 million of those post-Reagan manufacturing job losses, or 79%, occurred during the Bush 41 and Bush 43 presidencies, and I'm not even counting 2008, which was obviously a Bush 43 year but was also the start of the Great Recession and saw nearly a half-million manufacturing job losses.

What about Reagan and before? Under Democrats Kennedy and Johnson in the 1960s, we gained 2.8 million manufacturing jobs, then lost nearly 700K under Republicans Nixon and Ford, and then gained 1.2 million under Democrat Carter. How did Reagan do by this metric? During his administration, the U.S. lost more than 800K manufacturing jobs.

Of course there were huge losses during the Great Recession, much of which took place while Obama was president. In his first two years, the U.S. shed 1.9 million manufacturing jobs. Since 2010, however, we've regained nearly 700K of them, so Obama's net is a loss of 1.2 million. That's not good, obviously, but it's pretty minor when compared to Bush 43's net of 3.9 million manufacturing job losses, most of which happened during an economic expansion!

All told, since the end of WWII, we've lost 6.3 million manufacturing jobs under Republican presidents and gained 4.3 million under Democrats.

So I wouldn't be too quick to claim that establishment Republicans are just as bad as Democrats, because -- by your metric -- the Democrats are looking damned good over time.

Andrew, as usual, your words are misleading.

Look at the graph contained in the link I am providing:

http://www.epi.org/publication/the-manufacturing-footprint-and-the-importance-of-u-s-manufacturing-jobs/

The peak in manufacturing jobs was during the Carter administration, but the sharp decline began while he was still president. I am estimating the loss in manufacturing jobs since the beginning of the Reagan administration to be approximately 38 percent.

But you neglect to mention that it was CLINTON who finalized and signed NAFTA. It was CLINTON who gave most favored nation status to China. And the very meaning of Obama's presidency is predicated upon globalism and multiculturalism.

You also neglect to mention that what occurs economically in terms of manufacturing jobs during certain presidential administrations are heavily influenced by the conditions that were set in place by the administrations preceding them. It is simplistic to suggest that all the manufacturing job growth or losses that occur during a given administration are directly because of the actions taken by that administration. Sometimes, effects of decisions take time to develop.

Unfortunately, the establishment Republicans have not been much different from the Democrats overall.

Both the Democrats and the establishment Republicans have been eager participants in this globalist/ multicultural charade. Both have eagerly scooped up the monies of the multinational corporations that left America in the dust.

Misleading? You said we'd lost manufacturing jobs and I explained when we lost them. That's pretty straightforward.

You're right that the percent loss in such jobs is greater than 32% if we start at the beginning of Reagan's term rather than the end, given that we lost manufacturing jobs during his term.

You're also right that what happens during one presidency is often a function of what was done by the preceding president. But when the pattern is so one-sided, it's hard to take seriously your claim that there's little difference between the two parties. If there were no difference, the losses would be distributed more evenly.

But the main point I'd make is that you're placing too much weight on globalization as the culprit. NAFTA didn't actually do much damage. We were shedding manufacturing jobs before NAFTA and we continued to do so after it.

Over the last few decades, job losses in most manufacturing industries have been due more to automation than globalization. While jobs were lost, output kept increasing (though at a slower rate than GDP). The big exceptions are textiles and apparel, where both employment and output have declined. Apparel manufacturing never managed to harness labor-saving technologies and therefore the search was always on for lower and lower wages. That's how North Carolina lured that industry here from New England 100 years ago. NAFTA didn't stop that trend, but it didn't start it either.

NAFTA is but one piece of the onslaught of trade moves that include those affecting Central America, South Korea, and of course communist China. But it is a significant piece.

I think you are in denial if you refuse to acknowledge the Democrats' part in this mess. Both parties caused it, and Clinton played an instrumental role. I know it might be difficult for you to acknowledge that.

And yes, automation is a significant factor. But we would be foolish to try to minimize the impact of globalization, and the Democrats' part in it.

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