Jon Rynn is a visiting scholar at the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems and the
author of Manufacturing Green Prosperity (Praeger Press, 2011).
Is golf a sport?
WE USE manufactured
goods for almost everything
we do. Factories, in turn,
need the workers who use
their skill to operate the
machinery that creates the
goods. If we want economic
growth, we need more manufacturing jobs.
Why can’t we just import manufactured goods
from abroad and keep the service jobs in the U.S.?
First, 80 percent of global trade is in goods, not
in services, according to the World Trade Organization. An economy with a weak manufacturing
base—and, consequently, a large trade deficit—
ends up with a very weak currency, which then
leads to reduced capability to import goods, a
declining economy and a large-scale loss of jobs.
The only reason the U.S. trade deficit has not
severely devalued our currency is because the
American dollar is used for transactions around
the world. But even Federal Reserve Chairman
Ben Bernanke has called this situation “
unsustainable.” In other words, we need to grow our manufacturing base to ensure our economy’s well-being.
Second, manufacturing jobs provide workers
with middle-class incomes. That is because man-
ufacturing, unlike any other sector, receives the
same percentage of income that it contributes to
employment. The reason factory jobs are well
paid is that they are, increasingly, high-skill jobs.
The days of the low-skill assembly line dominat-
ing manufacturing are over.
Percentage reflects votes
received by May 14, 2013.
Are vehicle black boxes
a good idea?
YES: 35% NO: 65%
votes received by
April 30, 2013.
from an expert in the field:
Enrico Moretti holds the Michael Peevey and Donald Vial Chair in Labor
Economics at the University of California, Berkeley and is the author of
The New Geography of Jobs (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012).
MANY PUNDITS are predicting that the perceived
renaissance of America’s
manufacturing sector will
restore blue-collar America
to its past glories. The reality
is that while manufacturing employment increased
modestly over the last two years, it was only after
30 years of steep and consistent declines. American
factories have lost an average of 370,000 blue-collar positions per year since 1980. This decline is
likely to continue in the foreseeable future.
The future of American jobs is not in manufacturing, it is in innovation. Look where job creation is concentrated today. The economic map of
America shows three different countries. At one
extreme are the country’s brain hubs—cities such
as Seattle; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina;
Austin, Texas; and Boston—with a strong innova-tion-driven economy and a labor force among the
most creative and best paid on the planet.
At the other extreme are cities once dominated by manufacturing—Detroit; Flint, Michigan;
and Cleveland—with shrinking labor forces and
salaries. In the middle is the rest of America,
apparently undecided on which direction to take.
The difference between the three Americas
was small in the 1980s but has been growing dra-
matically since then. In 1980, the average salary in
Austin was lower than in Flint. Today it is 70 per-
cent higher in Austin, and the gap keeps expand-
ing with every passing year.
Opinions expressed are those of
the individuals or organizations
represented and are presented
to foster discussion. Costco and
The Costco Connection take no
position on any Debate topic.