Cultural Revolutions

Manufacturing Jobs Disappearing

Manufacturing jobs continue to disappear in the United States, and the process has accelerated during the recession that started in March 2001.  Manufacturing employment declined from 18,116,000 to 17,037,000 between March and December 2001, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The popular media have reported that this recession is the mildest since World War II, yet federal data reveals a more severe contraction in manufacturing.  A February 11 memo released by the National Bureau of Economic Research states that “A peak [in industrial production] occurred in June 2000 and the index declined over the next 17 months by 7.1 percent, far surpassing the average decline in the earlier recessions of 4.6 percent.”  BLS data shows that the percentage loss of manufacturing jobs (6.4 percent) already exceeds declines registered in the July 1990-March 1991 (3.7 percent) and July 1981-November 1982 (6.2 percent) recessions.

Manufacturing job creation peaked in April 1998.  Since then, some of the biggest job losses have occurred in the industrial heartland.  Michigan and Ohio, whose combined manufacturing employment is greater than any other state’s, lost 123,000 jobs between April 1998 and December 2001.  Another 243,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Illinois (83,900), Pennsylvania (76,000), Indiana (44,200), and Wisconsin (39,000), while California and Texas shed a...

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