We Still Haven’t Recovered Well-Paying Construction and Manufacturing Jobs

Robert E Scott

Robert E Scott Senior Economist, Economic Policy Institute

The economy has added 8.2 million jobs in the private sector since the Great Recession began in December 2007, but creation of construction and manufacturing jobs continues to lag. These industries are important to workers because they provide good jobs and high wages (that are even better if the workers are unionized). They are also some of the highest paying jobs for people without a bachelor’s degree. In July 2017, there were still 1.9 million fewer workers in construction and manufacturing than at the start of the Great Recession.

Construction $29.70 $29.70<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}"> $9.03 $9.03<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}">
Manufacturing $30.52 $30.52<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}">  $9.14 $9.14<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}">
All industries that have gained jobs $25.24 $25.24<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}"> $5.79 $5.79<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}">
$38.73$39.66$31.03Benefits:$9.03$9.14$5.79Wages:$29.70$30.52$25.24ConstructionManufacturingAll industries that havegained jobs01020304050

Source: EPI analysis of BLS Current Employment Statistics and Employment Cost Trends public data series.

Industries such as hospitality, health care, temporary help services, and other professional business services that have gained jobs since the beginning of the recession pay substantially less than construction and manufacturing industries. Hourly pay in job-gaining industries is $25.24 on average, versus $29.70 in construction and $30.52 in manufacturing. Total compensation (which includes both wages and all benefits) in job-gaining industries is $31.03, while compensation in construction and manufacturing is $38.73 and $39.66, respectively, 24.8 percent to 27.8 percent more than in job gaining industries.

Boosting job growth in industries that traditionally provide strong wages for the majority of working people (the bottom 70 percent) would help a lot. However, infrastructure investment has been in long-run decline, and the U.S. trade deficit in non-petroleum goods has increased sharply since 2009. Investments in infrastructure and stemming rising trade deficits would do much to help the overall economy and restore jobs to two well-paying sectors that badly need them. Unfortunately, the Trump administration budget is a disaster for public investment, and the administration has refused to label China a currency manipulator. Persistent undervaluation of the Chinese yuan has contributed to growing trade deficits that cost 3.4 million U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2015. Stronger growth in manufacturing and construction could provide a much-needed boost to wages for working Americans.


Reposted from EPI

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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