Unemployed American workers are glad to see factory jobs returning, but they’re finding that the pay is drastically lower now, the result of a global race to the bottom for cheap labor. Since the start of 2010, U.S. manufacturers have added 250,000 jobs, the first time since 1997 that the country is enjoying a sustained increase in factory employment. The Rust Belt in particular is beginning to see a turnaround, but workers will be making do with less income. Meanwhile, anti-union interests continue to chip away at workers’ right to organize and bargain, a sorry state of affairs for a country that must realize by now that being a “service economy” is getting us nowhere fast. —KDG
The Rust Belt’s nascent recovery is being fueled by a host of factors, including a revitalized auto sector, innovations that have made workers more productive, and a weakened dollar, which makes American products more appealing for export.
Lower labor costs are also a critical factor. But many of the prospective workers who braved a cold rain Monday outside the old Hoover plant for a shot at a job with benefits did not complain.
“I was a little disappointed about the rate of pay,” said Leslee Valentine, 52, who rushed down to the factory after hearing about the job fair on the news. “But right now I’m on unemployment, so it looks pretty good. There is always that opportunity to move up.”