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Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Saturday, October 25, 2003

Going, going ...

Since 1979, the number of manufacturing jobs in the US has dropped by 25 percent, for a loss of 5 million jobs. While it took about 20 years to lose the first 2.5 million jobs, the second 2.5 million have disappeared since Dubya took the oath of office as president. The LA Times has an excellent article on how the erosion of manufacturing jobs has hit the midwestern state of Wisconsin, and at how the loss of manufacturing jobs could be turning into a big political problem for the White House.

The main reasons [for the drop in factory jobs]: The sluggish economy reduced demand and forced companies to cut costs aggressively. Surging productivity enabled employers to produce more goods with fewer people. Outsourcing of production to China and other countries is responsible for as much as a third of the job loss, economists say. Other factors include rising production costs associated with regulation, litigation, health coverage and pension benefits

For the most part, the causes reflect long-term trends that began well before Bush arrived in Washington. But as his father learned a decade ago, voters tend to direct their economic anger at whomever is occupying the White House when the economy hits the skids. [...]

As a share of the U.S. workforce, manufacturing has been declining since World War II. Some economists attribute the shrinkage to the inevitable march of history. As the U.S. economy matures, they say, there is inevitably a transition from factory jobs to service sector work.

But the accelerated pace is causing growing concern. Good-paying factory work has been disappearing much faster than the economy can create equivalent jobs in other areas, analysts say.

The factory exodus threatens to create economic, social and political upheaval as millions of displaced production workers experience extended bouts of unemployment and the prospect of replacement jobs offering significantly lower pay, reduced benefits and diminished social standing.


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