The Trade Deficit Increased 9.6 Percent in January — and People Are Talking About It.

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is already using it to make the case for a trade shift.

Everybody’s talking about the trade deficit this week. Well, come sit by us, everybody!

In case you missed it, new trade figures released on Tuesday showed that the goods and services deficit rose to $48.5 billion in January, a 9.6 percent increase from December. That’s a big jump. People noticed it.

Now, the Alliance for American Manufacturing has long pointed to the trade deficit as a key indicator that all is not well for the manufacturing sector.

There always was pushback from naysayers, who liked to argue that the trade deficit isn’t really a big deal. There’s still that pushback out there, and it probably isn’t going away anytime soon.

And look, we get it. The trade deficit is a very complicated thing, and it’s only one piece of a larger economic puzzle. But it’s an important piece, and looking at the deficit over the long-term — particularly our lopsided trade relationship with China* — it is clear that trade is having a negative impact on our ability to grow manufacturing and create factory jobs.

It has been that way for quite some time, and month after month we released statements pointing this out. Said statements largely went unnoticed.

But what’s different now is that the Trump administration is all about talking about the trade deficit. Here’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in a statement he sent out Tuesday:   

“Today’s data shows there is much work to be done. President Trump has made free and fair trade a central part of his agenda, and correcting this imbalance is an important step in achieving that goal. To that end, in the coming months we will renegotiate bad trade deals and bring renewed energy to trade enforcement in defense of all hard-working Americans.”

It’s the kind of thing we never, ever heard from former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who served under former President Barack Obama. Ross’s remarks provide further evidence that the Trump trade team will indeed work to reshape America’s trade policy.

Let’s be clear — the Trump trade team is only talking about the deficit. That’s like, the easiest thing it can do. Well, maybe second easiest.

Beyond withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the administration hasn’t done much of anything about trade, at least not yet. It is time to move beyond the rhetoric and actually release some concrete policy plans.

That’s what working class voters want — actual initiatives that will bring about change. Actual, well-thought-out policy designed to create jobs and boost the manufacturing sector. Actual policy shifts that will help rebuild the communities in the industrial heartland that have been left devastated by offshoring and outsourcing.

Statements are nice. Tweets get everyone’s attention for a news cycle. But it’s time to get to work.

*Our goods deficit with China hit $30.2 billion in January, which is where it also was in December.

***

Reposted from AAM.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work