Thursday, December 19, 2019

New Reality for Manufacturing Jobs

Times have changed. No longer are manufacturing jobs the relatively high-paying opportunities they once were, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics' analysis of trends in earnings by industry. Although "the pay earned by production workers in manufacturing has long served as a marker for what constitutes middle-class status in the United States," says the BLS, "that status has changed." Manufacturing workers in the U.S. now earn less than the average private sector worker. In 1990, they earned 106 percent of the average. By 2018, the figure had fallen to 95 percent.

Some manufacturing workers have endured outright declines in hourly and weekly earnings. Those in the motor vehicles and parts industry, for example, saw their average hourly earnings fall 20 percent between 1990 and 2018, after adjusting for inflation. Their average weekly earnings fell 14 percent.

Not all manufacturing jobs have lost ground, however. Earnings have grown strongly since 1990 for petroleum and coal production workers. The 2018 average hourly earnings of $40.32 for these workers was well above the $22.71 for all private sector workers. Other industries in which manufacturing workers still earn more than the average private sector worker include computer and electronic parts, transportation equipment, and chemicals.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Relative Weakness in Earnings of Production Workers in Manufacturing

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