U.S. manufacturing jobs, I argued a few weeks ago, are never coming back. But that doesn’t stop politicians from talking about them. (...)Diga-se que, como algarvio, sempre me causou alguma sensação de estranheza essa tendência, sobretudo no discurso norte-americano, para associar "indústria" a "bons empregos" - afinal, no Algarve pré-turismo eram a terras industriais (como Vila Real de Santo António, Olhão ou Lagos) que tinham fama de serem terras de miséria, enquanto eram as terras mais viradas para o comércio (como Faro ou Loulé) que eram as terras ricas.
Candidates talk about manufacturing because of what it represents in the popular imagination: a source of stable, well-paying jobs, especially for people without a college degree. But that image is rooted more in nostalgia than in reality. Manufacturing no longer plays its former role in the economy, and not only because there are far fewer factory jobs than in the past. The jobs being created today often pay less than those of the past — sometimes far less.
A new report this week from the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, found that a third of production workers — non-managers working on factory floors and in related occupations — earn so little that their families receive some form of public assistance such as food stamps or the Earned Income Tax Credit. (...)
On average, manufacturing jobs still pay better than most jobs available to people without a college degree. The median manufacturing worker without a bachelor’s degree earned $15 an hour in 2015, a dollar more than similarly educated workers in other industries.1 But those averages obscure a great deal of variation beneath the surface. Average manufacturing wages are inflated by high-earning veterans; newly created jobs tend to pay less. And there are substantial regional variations. The average manufacturing production worker in Michigan earns $20.80 an hour, vs.$18.86 in South Carolina, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why do factory workers make more in Michigan? In a word: unions. (...) In Michigan, 23 percent of manufacturing production workers were union members in 2015; in South Carolina, less than 2 percent were. (...)
But this much is clear: For all of the glow that surrounds manufacturing jobs in political rhetoric, there is nothing inherently special about them. Some pay well; others don’t. They are not immune from the forces that have led to slow wage growth in other sectors of the economy. When politicians pledge to protect manufacturing jobs, they really mean a certain kind of job: well-paid, long-lasting, with opportunities for advancement. Those aren’t qualities associated with working on a factory floor; they’re qualities associated with being a member of a union.
Ver também Why Are Politicians So Obsessed With Manufacturing?, por Binyamin Appelbaum (New York Times, via Economist's View).