Trump Supporters Have Good Reason to Be Mad Peter Morici | Apr 13, 2016
At the turn of the century, factories employed more workers than education and health care combined or professional and business services. Nowadays the latter two groups of industries both employ millions more Americans than those making things.
While many positions in education, health care and professional and business services pay well, those often require a college or advanced degree or expensive specialized training beyond high school, and nowadays girls do better in school than boys. And the grimy environment of many factories was appealing to men, a lot of jobs in the abovementioned sectors are as attractive or even more appealing to women.
Hence it is no surprise that the fortunes of women have been improving—the feminist revolution and rise in female labor force participation notwithstanding—and the nation now confronts a crisis of despondent men.
Manufacturing has been a victim of its own success—productivity growth in manufacturing has outstripped other sectors of the economy creating a natural migration of job opportunities from factories to service—but international and domestic policies pursued by presidents dating back to Kennedy have exacerbated the plight of men without a college degree.
Free trade agreements have been advertised as jobs creators but the facts simply belie that claim. Whereas exports create jobs, imports destroy even more of them. The United States has a trade deficit on goods and services combined exceeding $500 billion. That kills 4 million jobs directly and at least another 2 million including from lost spending of workers initially displaced.
Manufacturing accounts for the lion’s share of the trade gap—especially goods from China and elsewhere in Asia that are often subsidized by national governments and benefit from artificially undervalued currencies. Presidents Bush and Obama have talked about fixing those practices, but the trade agreements they bring home make matters worse.
The South Korea Free Trade Agreement implemented on Obama’s watch has increased the trade deficit by more than $15 billion dollars and killed about 120,000 jobs—mostly in manufacturing.