Monday, February 02, 2009

Domestic Manufacturers Decry Nation's Job Losses; Urge Trade Policy Overhaul as Key to Economic Recovery

Kevin L. Kearns

Kearns: “The current world trading system is a Ponzi scheme dwarfing Bernie Madoff’s”

Washington, January 9 – The U.S. Business and Industry Council today decried the soaring unemployment rate revealed by this morning’s December government jobs report, and argued that job destruction’s heavy concentration in manufacturing means that economic recovery will be impossible without a major trade policy overhaul.

Manufacturing’s 149,000 lost jobs not only represented 28.44 percent of the 524,000 total non-farm jobs eliminated in December. The sector’s total 2008 job loss of 791,000 represented an even higher 30.54 percent of the 2.59 million non-farm total for the year. Put differently, 1.13 percent of manufacturing jobs were shed in December, as opposed to 0.38 percent of all non-farm jobs. And manufacturing’s 5.74 percent job decline in 2008 was more than three times greater than the 1.88 percent of total non-farm jobs eliminated last year.

Kevin L. Kearns, president of the Council, said, “The continued hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs is particularly distressing given that the nation is going to have to produce its way out of the current recession. We cannot spend, export, print, or borrow our way out of this looming economic disaster – contrary to much Washington and Wall Street conventional wisdom. The loss of more than 4.3 million manufacturing jobs this decade could not be more dangerous. It is destroying the human capital that will be needed to ramp up domestic production in response to any future government stimulus packages.”

Kearns continued, “Although stimulus is necessary, it must focus sharply on creating good jobs in the United States, not on enabling continued consumer binging on foreign-made goods. Only by meeting the needs of our citizens with domestically made products, can we generate growth at home. Any other strategy will simply keep building up foreign economies instead of America’s.”

According to Kearns, “Because productive industries like manufacturing dominate U.S. trade flows and deficits, trade policy overhaul is vital. Merely reviving the failed outsourcing-based economy of the last 15 years will only keep feeding the nation’s already dangerous debts and make another crash inevitable. The current world trading system, in which America loses $750 billion a year in deficits thanks to outsourcing-focused Washington trade deals and predatory foreign trade practices, is a Ponzi scheme dwarfing Bernie Madoff’s. The tailspin faced by China’s economy and the losses suffered by Toyota prove that even for foreign mercantilists, the era of getting rich quick at American producers’ and workers’ expense is over. We must replace this failed model and reinvent our entire economy.”

Kearns noted that the December job figures show that manufacturing employment has sunk to its lowest levels since March, 1946.

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