Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Truth - Manufacturing in America

As part of our commitment to set the record straight we want to address a topic very much in the news which is the loss of manufacturing jobs in America. If you believed the media just about all the jobs have moved to China except the auto workers.

For the record there are 154.4 million Americans in the work force and 143.3 million employed as of the end of December, 2008. Manufacturing in America peaked in 1979 with 19.5 million jobs. Today, after the devastating impact of the global recession manufacturing jobs total about 13 million. However, the loss of jobs started long before the China factor as there were 16.8 million jobs when Congress passed and Clinton signed the NAFTA (North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement) on December 8, 1993, nearly 3 million less than in 1979.

That was the Free Trade Agreement Ross Perot opposed but Clinton and Gore slammed through Congress. I should know because I worked with Perot at the time including the fateful debate between Gore and Perot on the Larry King Show. More on Ross later. He warned us of the long term impact of NAFTA and his warning rings true today as the new Administration is studying ways to limit the scope of the original agreement.

From 2000 to 2008 we lost 4 million more manufacturing jobs yet at the same time we had an increase in worker productivity of eleven times meaning the 13 million remaining workers in 2008 were able to produce far more product (11 times as much) than the 17 million in 2000.

Contrary to media myth, China did not take all our jobs as Asia provides far less goods to America today than ten years ago. In fact most technology related jobs went to India while the Japanese were moving manufacturing facilities to the USA. Even Mexico, who benefited greatly after NAFTA, has lost jobs in the past few years because of growth around the world.

As for the Chinese goods that have been subject to many recalls, don't forget that the Chinese were building to the specs provided by the American corporations ordering the goods, corporations who thought they could lower costs with cheap labor overseas. It was the responsibility of the American companies to provide detailed specifications and to assure quality control and they seemed to have failed in both tasks.

Meanwhile with all the disproportionate attention on China India quietly took over the high tech computer jobs including the service, technical and customer support positions. Both India and China have been hurt bad by the global recession and the reduced spending by Americans.

We lost 791,000 manufacturing jobs in 2008 which was probably quite remarkable considering the economic catastrophe we faced but we still have over 13 million jobs in that sector. When we come out of the recession we should be in the best manufacturing position since 1979. Made in America will always stand for superior quality. As consumers, make sure you look for products that support our jobs as well as insure the highest quality.

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