Are February’s Disappointing Jobs Numbers the Start of a New Trend or Just a Blip?

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

The Labor Department released its monthly jobs report on Friday, and it was a… good one? Bad one? O.K. one?

Manufacturing gained 4,000 new jobs in February, while 20,000 new jobs were created across the economy. That was well below expectations of around 180,000 new jobs.

Over at the White House, President Trump shrugged off the report, and some economists also said they weren’t all that concerned. After all, wages are on the rise, suggesting things are still strong. Unemployment rates for workers who didn’t graduate high school fell 5.3 percent, a sign that the economy is still doing just fine.

Meanwhile, the weather was pretty brutal across the country in February, which probably slowed hiring down quite a bit.

But not everybody is so confident. After all, 20,000 jobs isn’t great, especially when you consider that factory jobs alone had grown by an average of 22,000 new jobs per month over the past 12 months.

“This is a disappointing report. I don’t think there’s any way to sugarcoat it,” Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist of Northern Trust in Chicago, told the New York Times.

So who has it right?

We just don’t know for sure. But we do know that there are policies that will help grow the economy and keep job growth strong, especially in manufacturing.

Infrastructure seems like a good place to start. While “Infrastructure Week” has become a jokein political circles these days, there is a reason why it is the one thing that can bring business and labor together – it will create jobs and boost the economy. If an infrastructure investment package includes strong Buy America preferences, that’s even better.

Meanwhile, more investment is also needed in federal R&D partnerships like the Manufacturing USA institutes, and we need to train the next generation of workers for high tech jobs.

Then there’s the impending trade deal with China. Manufacturers need a tough, enforceable deal that takes on China’s trade cheating and levels the playing field for American workers and businesses.

As always, we’ll keep a close eye on the manufacturing jobs numbers to see whether the hiring slowdown continues, or if February's numbers are indeed just a blip.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

A Just, Inclusive and Sustainable Economy

From the AFL-CIO

This week, labor leaders from across the country descended on New Orleans to map out the path ahead for our movement. From trade and public education to equal pay and paid leave to back pay for federal contract workers and bargaining power for all, the AFL-CIO Executive Council tackled the issues that will define working people’s fight for economic justice in 2019 and beyond.

Sending waves through Washington yesterday, the Executive Council’s most notable decision was its announcement that, “if the administration insists on a premature vote on the new NAFTA in its current form, we will have no choice but to oppose it.” Here are a few highlights from the statement:

  • Trade policy must be judged by whether it leads to a just, inclusive and sustainable economy....By that measure, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has driven the outsourcing of so many good jobs, has been a catastrophic failure. More than 850,000 U.S. jobs were shipped overseas under NAFTA between 1993 and 2013.
  • By design, NAFTA distorted power relationships in favor of global employers over workers, weakened worker bargaining power and encouraged the de-industrialization of the U.S. economy.
  • After a quarter-century of this race to the bottom, workers in all three NAFTA countries find it more difficult to form unions and negotiate collective bargaining agreements.
  • The NAFTA renegotiation requires strong labor rights provisions and strong enforcement provisions that as of today are not yet in the agreement.
  • The current effort by the business community to pass the new NAFTA is premature, and if it continues, we will be forced to mobilize to defeat it, just as we mobilized to kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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New NAFTA Must Create an Economy for All

New NAFTA Must Create an Economy for All