MANUFACTURING EMPLOYMENT –Recovering? Maybe, but how rapidly? The WSJ reports.
This post is especially for my good friend, Nancy, whom I know as a thinking person who has much knowledge and always seeks more. She reads The Wall Street Journal daily, as I do. The WSJ has been our most reliable source for objective reporting of data and factual information, as well as analysis to assist readers understand the real essence of reports. A WSJ front page article yesterday, May 29,2012, begs scrutiny, not for facts, but for lack of informative analysis.....and perhaps a bit of false allusion. Some readers will make their own analysis, others legitimately will simply accept WSJ's write.
The front page headline “Flat U.S. Wages Help Fuel Rebound in Manufacturing” is followed by a lead line, “The celebrated revival of U.S. of manufacturing employment has been accompanied by a less lauded fact: Wages .... aren't keeping up with inflation.” Fair enough! Take it at face value as we are want to do with The WSJ.
What The WSJ could have (should have) reported is that this is part of the restructuring of the manufacturing sector of the economy that has seen diminished employment as a result of excessive costs driven in large part by unions. They could have reported also that this excessive cost factor is the major cause of the mantra “exported jobs.” Jobs have a value. Exceed that value with excessive demands and the job disappears. That's what unions have done to drive manufacturing offshore and to devastate Detroit and other “auto cities.” Public Service Unions are now, with Obama's support, are doing the same with government jobs.
Also, what's the magnitude of the rebound and what manufacturing industries are “rebounding?” It's necessary to know this, especially since the Obama administration is commanding major headlines with claims that manufacturing is recovering “briskly” and that Obama “saved the auto industry.” I'll examine briefly the rate of recovery. I'll save the discussion of how Obama DID NOT SAVE THE AUTO INDUSTRY for a separate article.
The WSJ reports that after losing 35% of manufacturing jobs since 1998 (only about 2/3rds of the total loss in 30 years), employment has risen 4.3% to 11.9 million jobs from the trough in 2010. This can be called a rebound if it persists, but to allude to it being a dramatic recovery is a long stretch.....and not warranted. Fact is, to return to the same level as 1998 would require a 54% increase from the trough!
If the manufacturing job recovery bounce is only 4.3% in two years, what is a legitimate time projection for “full recovery” – not to 30 years ago but to only 1998. To accept the claim of recovery to normal requires a redefined normal.
The same analysis of “saving the auto industry and it's being on a recovery trajectory” shows even a more dramatic case of no recovery to the old highs. More on this later, but news agencies are not telling the accurate story.