According to a new report, ever since Bill Clinton granted permanent normal trade relations to China, the U.S has lost over 64,000 manufacturing firms and at least 5.8 million manufacturing jobs.
The main reason why America is still experiencing mass unemployment going into 2015 is because, for decades, our economy has transformed from a manufacturing economy (with good paying union jobs) into a service economy (with low paying "right to work" jobs) — mostly because of outsourcing and offshoring. Congress has passed trade agreements and wrote a tax code that actually encourages this.
To make matters even worse, the government plans to redefine manufacturing that would artificially boost GDP and artificially lower the trade deficit, by reclassifying foreign made products made by American companies — such as Apple's iPhones that are manufactured in China.
Betty Sutton (former U.S. Representative for Ohio's 13th congressional district ), by using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, had found that there were 398,887 private manufacturing establishments of all sizes in the United States during the first quarter of 2001. By the end of 2010 however, the number of factories had declined to 342,647, a loss of 56,190 facilities. Over a period of those 10 years, that worked out to be an average yearly loss of 5,619 factories.
Since 2010, however, that number has fallen even further — from 342,647 in 2010 to 334,800 by the end of 2012 — for an additional loss of 7,847 more manufacturers in two years alone. That's over 64,000 lost manufacturers just since Bill Clinton signed into law the U.S.- China Relations Act of 2000, which granted permanent normal trade relations status to the People's Republic of China.
Betty Sutton had noted that many big companies have not created jobs in the U.S. — but instead, they’ve taken many of their jobs to countries with the cheapest labor, the least regulations and the fewest labor rights. "This flies in the face of the Republicans’ concern that taxes on the rich means fewer jobs," she said. As the Wall Street Journal had reported in 2012, "Thirty-five big U.S.-based multinational companies added jobs much faster than other U.S. employers in the past two years, but nearly three-fourths of those jobs were overseas."
When jobs are offshored, Americans also lose the multiplier effect — especially in manufacturing. As factories get "smarter" and more advanced, the multiplier increases significantly. In some advanced manufacturing sectors, such as electronic computer manufacturing, the multiplier effect can be as high as 16-to-1 (meaning that every manufacturing job could support 15 other jobs).
After recently surpassing Japan as the world's 2nd largest economy, China is now on target to overtake the U.S. to be the world's largest economy in just a few years. And it's not over yet. A study shows that almost 1/3 of all current domestic jobs are still prone to being outsourced or offshored.
From a recent study by Vox in September 2014: The rise of China and the future of US manufacturing:
China’s impact has been strong, and employment in US manufacturing is unlikely to recover ... The scale of the employment decline is indeed stunning. In 2000, 17.3 million US workers were employed in manufacturing ... By 2010, employment had dropped to 11.5 million workers, a 33% decrease from 2000 ... China’s share in US manufacturing imports has expanded in concert with its global presence, rising from 5% in 1991 to 11% in 2001 before leaping to 23% in 2011 ... For many US manufacturing firms, intensifying import competition from China means a reduction in demand for the goods they produce and a corresponding contraction in the number of workers they employ ... Actual US manufacturing employment declined by 5.8 million workers from 1999 to 2011 ... When manufacturing contracts, workers who have lost their jobs or suffered declines in their earnings subsequently reduce their spending on goods and services. The contraction in demand is multiplied throughout the economy ... workers who exit manufacturing may take up jobs in the service sector or elsewhere in the economy ... The jobs in apparel, furniture, shoes, and other wage-sensitive products that the United States has lost to China are unlikely to return. Even as China’s labor costs rise, the factories that produce these goods are more likely to relocate to Bangladesh, Vietnam, or other countries rising in China’s wake than to reappear on US shores. Further, China’s impact on US manufacturing is far from complete. During the 2000s, the country rapidly expanded into the assembly of laptops and cell-phones, with production occurring increasingly under Chinese brands ... If the trend toward the automation of routine jobs in manufacturing continues, the application of new technologies is likely to do much more to boost growth in value added than to expand employment on the factory floor.
The National Center for Education Statistics shows that we've had over 16 million high school graduates from the end of the Great Recession in 2009 to the present in 2014 (excluding college grads and dropouts).
During that same period of time, the Social Security Administration shows we've had an additional 5.7 million retirees, including as many as 1.4 million of who may have been forced into early retirements because they couldn't find jobs. (And during that time we've also had an additional 1.4 million disabled workers in payment status for monthly benefits.)
Since the Great Recession ended, we've had over 11 million additional working-age people who are "not in the labor force" — many who are most likely "discouraged workers" who gave up looking for non-existent jobs and are no longer counted as "unemployed". Of those, there are currently over 6.3 million working-age Americans not counted in the unemployment rate and who are "not in the labor force" but also want a job — and many are disabled or retired (If they're over 50, employers won't hire them).
And we still have 9.6 million people who are still in the labor force and are still counted as "unemployed" and supposedly still want a job. Some will only get 12 weeks of unemployment benefits, some will get as many as 26 weeks (the maximum now) — depending on which state they live. But most will become "long-term unemployed" after 26 weeks before eventually being classified as "discouraged workers" — and then they will no longer be counted as part of the labor force either.
5.8 million good-paying manufacturing jobs (and their multiplier effect) would sure come in handy today. Since it's unlikely that manufacturing will be coming back to the US, the best we can hope for going forward is that more workers in the service industries (e.g. fast food, retail and home care workers, etc.) will unionize for better wages — that is, until those jobs are replaced by machines or robots. But at least they can never be offshored.
Oddly, the Fed, the CBO, the BLS and our economists have been pulling out their hair trying to determine why the labor force participation rate has been in a long and steady decline since April of 2000. Some say it's because the Baby Boomers are retiring (although the first Boomer didn't retire until 2008 at the age of 62). Some say it's because people are going on disability (even though it's only a proportionate number of people in the labor force who receive SSD). Some say it's because too many people prefer to go on the government dole. But very few say it's because the job creators have offshored too many jobs — and that it's because "we lack jobs" for everyone who wants one. That's why they call discouraged workers "discouraged" — because they can't find a job.