The Washington Post reports Here’s the real Rust Belt jobs problem — and it’s not offshoring or automation
Since the corporate mergers and restructurings in the 1980s, most cities depend not on one or two large factories but on many small subsidiary operations — light manufacturing, food processing, professional service firms, call centers, hotels and retail. These smaller subsidiaries mostly move between struggling cities and towns rather than leaving for other countries.
But they offer few ‘good’ unionized jobs. For instance, in the 1970s, the local meat packing plant hired thousands and paid $15 an hour. But the Tyson Foods or John Morrell plant that replaced it employs hundreds and may pay about $10.
Much of the blame for that falls on federal policy. Unions have been hobbled by a changing legal environment. A corporate merger wave unleashed by financial deregulation eliminated local owners who paid workers living wages and contributed generously to their towns. Tax code changes led to ballooning senior managers’ earnings at the expense of line-workers’ wages. Without changing the federal policies that led to these trends, bringing manufacturing back will not create good, safe jobs.