Job Losses In Manufacturing

Latest employment survey shows continued decline in Wisconsin manufacturing jobs
– Wisconsin State Journal, October 18, 2019

Manufacturing — the production of machinery, transportation equipment, and food products – has long been the bread-and-butter for Wisconsin families. So when there is a slowdown in the sector, we feel it.

From cars to wind turbines, to cheese and meat processing, Wisconsin’s manufacturing industry is the state’s largest employer, representing nearly 16% of the state’s workforce.

According to reporting by Mitchell Schmidt, Wisconsin State Journal: Wisconsin manufacturers employed 6,800 fewer people in September compared with a year earlier, which continues a trend toward the largest year-over-year decline since the last recession. The projected drop in manufacturing employment was entirely within the durable goods sector. Industry experts have pointed to international trade disputes and the rising cost of materials brought on by tariffs as a key factor behind uncertainty in Wisconsin’s manufacturing market.

When manufacturers face uncertainty in the economy they tend to brace themselves, rather than make new capital investments. Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, earlier this month estimated that about half of WMC’s 3,700 members have reported being negatively impacted by tariffs, while many also support tariffs as they relate to China.

From Reuters – August 22, 2019: The Trump administration says that the economy is booming and jobs are growing. But the blow to factory employment is more pronounced in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin than in the rest of the country.

While the overall U.S. economy is still growing at a healthy clip thanks to robust consumer spending, the weakness in manufacturing is very real. Factories have been hit by weaker overseas markets, a U.S.-China trade war and an investment slowdown economists attribute in part to worries about trade tensions.

Trump has equated American renewal with a rebound in manufacturing, and put trade policy at the center of efforts to make that happen. There is dispute among economists about the potential for manufacturing job growth, however. Even if manufacturing output grows, it is likely to involve fewer workers due to automation and better management. The West and oil-rich areas have seen stronger gains than the industrial Midwest, which was hit hard by outsourcing and automation, a new analysis shows.

As Democrats, we take strong exception to economic policies that forget about the Upper Midwest, brush off the reality of under-employment, and pretend that the future will be no different from the past.

We call on our leaders to get the facts and be honest.

It’s time for us to build a bridge to the future. We envision a new economy that responds across regions – rural, urban and in-between – with living wages for all. Practical investments like broadband service, efficient transportation, education hubs, and support for new businesses will be needed.

Tell your Republican Legislators that you want them to fight for jobs that support families and communities.