Manufacturing

  • 03.14.16

    Are Trade Deals Good For America?

    Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are blaming free-trade deals for the decline of working-class jobs and incomes. Are they right? Robert Reich points out that "America has lost a significant number of factory jobs over the last three decades. In 1980, 1 in 5 Americans worked in manufacturing. Now it's 1 in 12."...

    Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are blaming free-trade deals for the decline of working-class jobs and incomes. Are they right?

    Robert Reich points out that "America has lost a significant number of factory jobs over the last three decades. In 1980, 1 in 5 Americans worked in manufacturing. Now it’s 1 in 12."

    Reich explains that the reduction in manufacturing jobs is as a result of a number of factors including automation and technology, as well as increasing trade. However, Reich explains that the loss of manufacturing jobs through better technology and more trade is not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, it is bad because "trade has widened inequality and imposed a particular burden on America’s blue-collar workers" without offering an opportunity for those workers to enter other professions."The core problem isn’t really free trade, or even the loss of factory jobs per se. It’s the demise of an entire economic system in which people with only high-school degrees, or less, could count on good and secure jobs."

    The article ends with an appeal from Reich that "Trade has contributed to the loss of this old system, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should give up on free trade. We should create a new system, in which a greater share of Americans can be winners."