For Good Jobs, Look Beyond the Rust

In Economy On
- Updated

The good news is that American manufacturing output is the highest in its history. The bad news for manufacturing workers is that, leaving aside the loss of jobs going overseas, automation and technology have allowed the value of manufacturing to grow ever higher with fewer and fewer employees.

Mr. Trump should be driving government to foster more of the sorts of manufacturing jobs that are offering working Americans the wages ($26 an hour on average), benefits and middle-class mobility that manufacturing behemoths once provided.

Mr. Trump may not have known it, but half of the American-made products displayed on the White House lawn for the “Made in America Product Showcase” on Monday were built by beneficiaries of a program that faces an uncertain future, thanks to proposed cuts to the Commerce Department budget. With a budget of only $130 million, the program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, operates centers that help develop new products, plan expansions and find cost savings. It served more than 25,000 small and midsize manufacturers last year.

That’s an important focus, since all but 3,700 of the nation’s 252,000 manufacturing firms employ fewer than 500 people, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. It’s been estimated that manufacturers advised by partnership centers helped create or retain more than 142,000 jobs in the last fiscal year.

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