Revitalizing The Rust Belt

by admin on September 7, 2017

During the last U.S. presidential election, much was made of the loss of America’s manufacturing and the economic malaise that fell upon many areas of the country, especially the Rust Belt, as a result. President Trump has made many claims of revitalizing industries that have been in decline for decades, notably the steel, coal and car industry. He placed the blame for their demise on three main areas: China’s economic policies, especially their manipulation of their currency and the dumping of cheap steel on the market; the previous administration’s trade deals and lack of interest in supporting the domestic manufacturing industry and heartlands; and the off-shoring of manufacturing jobs to cheaper labor locations in Asia. President’s Trump’s official site cites research from 2007 by the Economic Policy Institute, declaring that “America has lost nearly one-third of its manufacturing jobs since NAFTA and 50,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization.”

His mantra has been “America First,” and it has been music to the ears of the millions of disenfranchised workers in the previously prosperous heartland of the U.S. who are frustrated at the focus on booming coastal cities while their communities decay. He married this with a stance as an anti-establishment candidate, correctly sensing the mood as the working classes across the Western World push back at the onslaught of globalization and neo-liberalism that seem to have greatly benefited the money men, politicians and technocrats, but has left behind those with just their sweat to sell.

But how much of this manufacturing decline is down to the reasons above, and is there a bigger reason for this decline? Finally, can anything be done to help, or is the rust belt doomed to just rust away?

Ruins at the abandoned Packard Automotive Plant are seen on September 4, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. The Packard Plant was a 3.5 million square foot car manufacturing plant built completed in 1911. Major operations ceased in 1958, though the plant was used in a limited capacity until the 1990s, with outer buildings used through the mid 2000s. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

A Jobless Recovery

Since the Industrial Revolution hit U.S. shores, it had a dramatic effect on the labor force. The chart below shows the change in employment type in the US since 1840 and demonstrates how the labor force has changed from a predominantly agricultural workforce to a service industry one. One surprising statistic is that service industry employment has always been higher than industry. However, as the graph shows, while both service and industrial jobs rose at the expense of the collapse of agricultural jobs, since 1960, manufacturing employment has been in freefall while service industry jobs have continued to climb. Employment in industrial sectors is now at its lowest level percentage wise since the mid-19th Century.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Original Source

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: