Manufacturing Sector Loses 4,000 Jobs in November

By Susan Jones | December 2, 2016 | 11:10am EST
President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence talk with factory workers during a visit to the Carrier factory, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis, Ind. (AP Photo)

( - The economy lost 4,000 manufacturing jobs between October and November, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. It's the fifth straight month of manufacturing job losses.

The news comes one day after President-elect Donald Trump went to a Carrier air conditioner plant in Indianapolis to celebrate the company's announcement that it will keep a thousand jobs, most of them in manufacturing, that it was planning to send to Mexico.

Carrier's job-saving announcement happened after Trump called the head of the company on Thanksgiving on behalf of worried workers.

In his remarks at the Carrier plant, Trump said criticized the NAFTA trade deal that produced "a one-lane highway into Mexico." Things are going to change, he promised: "We have to bring our jobs back."

Trump said he plans to do that by reducing corporate taxes and eliminating burdensome regulations, most of which are "nonsense," he said.

In November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 12,260,000 manufacturing employees, 301,000 fewer than the number in January 2009 when President Obama took office. The number of manufacturing jobs dropped to 11,453,000 in February 2010, a level not seen since 1941.

Since that February 2010 low, 807,000 manufacturing jobs have come back as the recession ended.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama set a goal of creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs in his second term. The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is keeping track, and it says the president still 700,000 jobs short of his second-term goal.

In a statement on Friday, AAM President Scott Paul noted that factory jobs have been stagnant for two years.

"Automation is displacing some of these manufacturing workers, but many more opportunities have been lost due to weak export growth and high levels of imports, particularly from China. Congress and the incoming president should enact policies to boost domestic demand, such as infrastructure investment, that would increase factory hiring," Paul said.

AAM is urging the Trump administration to reform unfair trade policies and practices.

Paul also said he believes the Carrier deal "was worth doing," even if it isn't a "practical job creation policy."

"I hope the deal impacts corporate decision-making on offshoring and reshoring, as our global competitors are fighting every day to attract jobs, sometimes through unsavory means."

The National Association of Manufacturers said recent reports, including Friday's employment report, show the economy is strengthening, although manufacturing has a long way to go:

"Moving forward, manufacturing leaders are cautiously optimistic about demand and production for 2017, and we would expect that this increase in activity would lead to additional hiring," NAM said in a blog post.

"With that said, it’s clear the incoming administration, which has touted manufacturing as a top priority, has its work cut out for it.  Manufacturers look forward to working with the next Administration and Congress to enact policies -- from infrastructure, to comprehensive tax reform – that will help spur America’s manufacturing economy." (NAM also wants to see the Export-Import Bank restored to full functionality.)

Despite the job losses in manufacturing, the economy added 178,000 jobs in November, with employment in professional and business services leading the way. Healthcare and construction employment also rose in November.

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