Southern Manufacturing Job Losses Since WTO and NAFTA

By Hunter Wallace

“Were the Americans, either by combination or by another sort of violence, to stop the importation of European manufactures, and, by thus giving a monopoly to such of their own countrymen as could manufacture the like goods, divert any considerable part of their capital into this employment, they will instead retard instead of accelerating the further increase in the value of their annual produce, and would obstruct instead of promoting the progress of their country toward wealth and greatness.”

– Adam Smith, 1776

Since 1994, the South has lost nearly 2 million NET manufacturing jobs thanks to the WTO and free-trade agreements like NAFTA. Manufacturing employment has dropped in absolute numbers in every Southern state. This has led to thousands of blighted, abandoned factories left behind in communities all across the South.

Use this convenient tool to search for the jobs that free-trade has destroyed in your area. You will be surprised to learn how many jobs the US Department of Labor has certified as being lost due to free-trade under the Trade Assistance Adjustment Program.

In many of these states, the job losses due to free-trade are even more staggering than they appear to be here. These are only the manufacturing jobs, but many jobs in agriculture (aquaculture) and services (accounting) have been sent overseas as well. Trump is right that we are getting killed in trade by China, Japan, and Mexico. We haven’t run a trade surplus with these countries in 20 years.

We’re demolishing our manufacturing base and replacing it with low-wage McJobs. As for the foreign manufacturing plants which are held up as proof of the magic of free-trade, Alabama paid ThyssenKrupp over $1 billion dollars for a steel mill, $158 million dollars for Airbus, $253 million dollars for Mercedes-Benz, and $234 million dollars for Hyundai. Georgia got a KIA plant for $400 million dollars. We subsidize foreigners with billions of dollars in incentive packages to build plants here to take over our own market.

Investing in our own future, however, is decried as “socialism” or “protectionism.” According to free-market theorists like Adam Smith and Jean-Baptiste Say, the United States was destined to be an agricultural country “like Poland,” but we are still following their advice two centuries later. In hindsight, the South was “like Poland” in the sense that it was unable to defend itself and lost its independence.

Alabama

“Alabama lost 102,100 manufacturing jobs (or 28.6 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Alabama declined from 26 percent to 16.7 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

North Carolina

“North Carolina lost 359,794 manufacturing jobs (or 44.2 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in North Carolina declined from 29.6 percent to 13.2 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

South Carolina

“South Carolina lost 111,503 manufacturing jobs (or 32.4 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in South Carolina declined from 27.2 percent to 14.7 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Georgia

“Georgia lost 150,487 manufacturing jobs (or 29 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Georgia declined from 20 percent to 10.6 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Florida

“Florida lost 109,542 manufacturing jobs (or 24.7 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Florida declined from 9.2 percent to 4.9 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Virginia

“Virginia lost 140,969 manufacturing jobs (or 37.8 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Virginia declined from 16 percent to 7.8 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Maryland

“Maryland lost 72,825 manufacturing jobs (or 41.3 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Maryland declined from 10.4 percent to 5 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

West Virginia

“West Virginia lost 30,908 manufacturing jobs (or 39.3 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in West Virginia declined from 15.4 percent to 8.4 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Tennessee

“Tennessee lost 182,817 manufacturing jobs (or 35.8 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Tennessee declined from 26 percent to 13.7 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Kentucky

“Kentucky lost 44,654 manufacturing jobs (or 15.8 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Kentucky declined from 22.3 percent to 15.5 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Mississippi

“Mississippi lost 103,113 manufacturing jobs (or 42.3 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Mississippi declined from 30 percent to 16 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Missouri

“Missouri lost 105,798 manufacturing jobs (or 29.1 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Missouri declined from 18.2 percent to 11.3 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Oklahoma

“Oklahoma lost 18,346 manufacturing jobs (or 11.5 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Oklahoma declined from 16.4 percent to 11 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Arkansas

“Arkansas lost 81,116 manufacturing jobs (or 34.8 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2014), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Arkansas declined from 28.3 percent to 16 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Louisiana

“Louisiana lost 31,315 manufacturing jobs (or 17.5 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Louisiana declined from 13.6 percent to 9 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

Texas

“Texas lost 71,564 manufacturing jobs (or 7.4 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Texas declined from 15.8 percent to 9.2 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.”

About Hunter Wallace 11765 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

9 Comments

  1. “Manufacturing employment has dropped in absolute numbers in every Southern state.” Throughout history, there has been perpetual war and competition based upon tribe, ethnicity, race, religion, and class. Jews and others at the top know this and use it to their advantage.
    “Capitalism is made to appeal to the management class, and communism to the working class. … the Jews sit at the top of the power structure, stealing the profits and pulling the strings.”
    http://expeltheparasite.com/2013/10/09/dont-ignore-the-class-war/

  2. What’s the alternative to free trade? Unfree trade? Asking the government’s permission every time I want to buy something? Countless civilizations have prospered by opening new trade routes, so why can’t we? Perhaps our problem is something else.

    Dutch Disease begins when a large influx of unearned wealth causes a nation’s currency to rise in value. This makes imported goods cheaper than domestic manufacturing, so the nation’s industry declines. Don’t worry, there’s no Laffer curve for unearned wealth, so the government can just take it and spread it around. Spent on food, education, health care, housing, high-speed rail, green energy, and hundreds of other vote-buying boondoggles, this free money creates millions of “service sector” jobs for a workforce that no longer produces tradable goods.

    Then the oil fields start to dry up, or in our case, the world starts to lose faith in the Almighty Dollar, and there’s no more easy money to subsidize those service jobs. We easily forgot how to make goods for export; now it will be much harder to get those jobs back, short of conquering the world and forcing them to buy our products at gunpoint.

    • Dave,

      “What’s the alternative to free trade? Unfree trade? Asking the government’s permission every time I want to buy something? Countless civilizations have prospered by opening new trade routes, so why can’t we? Perhaps our problem is something else.”

      As I demonstrated here, the South industrialized due to decades of WW2 and Cold War military spending:

      http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2015/12/01/review-the-new-encyclopedia-of-southern-culture-agriculture-and-industry-industry/

      The alternative to free-trade is protectionism which would foster industrialization in the South. You would still be free to buy foreign imports, but they would be more expensive. This policy would keep our money and taxes in this country instead of going overseas and contributing to our national debt.

      “Dutch Disease begins when a large influx of unearned wealth causes a nation’s currency to rise in value. This makes imported goods cheaper than domestic manufacturing, so the nation’s industry declines. Don’t worry, there’s no Laffer curve for unearned wealth, so the government can just take it and spread it around. Spent on food, education, health care, housing, high-speed rail, green energy, and hundreds of other vote-buying boondoggles, this free money creates millions of “service sector” jobs for a workforce that no longer produces tradable goods.”

      I don’t disagree, but this is a symptom of a $350 billion dollar annual trade deficit with China that was caused by free-trade. The Chinese use their surplus dollars to finance our national debt. They use the interest we pay them off our national debt to finance their military.

      “Then the oil fields start to dry up, or in our case, the world starts to lose faith in the Almighty Dollar, and there’s no more easy money to subsidize those service jobs. We easily forgot how to make goods for export; now it will be much harder to get those jobs back, short of conquering the world and forcing them to buy our products at gunpoint.”

      I agree that one of the consequences of free-trade is the offshoring of production which causes a devastating loss of skills among American workers.

  3. I’ve done a couple of public rallies on this subject in the past. Many of the people ignored us and drove on by. I wonder how many of those have lost their factory jobs since? Southern Workers have been exploited for years by the American Empire. We need a Free South. Deo Vindice !

  4. 1. Break the political stranglehold of Northern Unions by promising Southerners that the benefit would redound to them.
    2. Ship jobs to third world slave states.
    3. ?????
    4. Profit!!

  5. Huntersays,”…Investing in our own future, however, is decried as “socialism” or “protectionism.”…”

    Nothing for Defense everything for Tribute. That’s the way they want it.

    I suggest that we should have some ass kicking tariffs plus tax cuts for exports to make up for all those years. We should ask all the countries that have been importing to the US with low or no tariffs to reciprocate and let us import into their countries for 20 years with no tariffs. If they will not do so then we will just keep the tariffs up until they give us 20 years of low tariffs.

    The reason that the Chinese are buying our bonds is the well known tactic of lowering the value of the Chinese currency and positioning us for financial blackmail of dumping the dollar if we retaliate. The Japanese honed this to perfection and the Chinese copied it. Of course this blackmail trick only works once.

  6. We’re demolishing our manufacturing base and replacing it with low-wage McJobs.

    If you disaggregate non WTO and NAFTA from the figures above the job losses the numbers still aren’t good but it might explain that not all job losses are due to trade. Some may be due to automation.

    In regards to the South losing its manufacturing base, base on the National Association of Manufacturers data, the overall trend of manufacturing output in the South has been higher since the year 2000. Some states like Mississippi and Arkansas had significant dips around 2007/2008, but generally in the South overall manufacturing output has been higher. To understand the entire manufacturing picture better, it would be good to have more industry specific manufacturing data on a state by state basis for the last 15 years.

    http://www.nam.org/Data-and-Reports/State-Manufacturing-Data/

    • Jeff,

      “If you disaggregate non WTO and NAFTA from the figures above the job losses the numbers still aren’t good but it might explain that not all job losses are due to trade. Some may be due to automation.”

      While it is true that “not all job losses are due to trade,” the vast bulk of them have been certified by the US Department of Labor as being lost due to offshoring production to foreign countries. In some cases, the job losses due to free-trade have been even more devastating because offshoring also affects agriculture and services. Finally, if automation were causing the downward spiral in US manufacturing employment, we wouldn’t see US corporations employing huge numbers of foreign workers now would we?

      Much of our trade deficit isn’t even really “trade” in any true sense of the word. It consists of US corporations producing manufactured goods in foreign countries like China and Indonesia – in order to take advantage of the cheap labor there, the subsidies, and tax evasion – and exporting those goods back to the US nearly duty free.

      “In regards to the South losing its manufacturing base, base on the National Association of Manufacturers data, the overall trend of manufacturing output in the South has been higher since the year 2000. Some states like Mississippi and Arkansas had significant dips around 2007/2008, but generally in the South overall manufacturing output has been higher. To understand the entire manufacturing picture better, it would be good to have more industry specific manufacturing data on a state by state basis for the last 15 years.”

      FYI, the National Association of Manufacturers is an industry lobby that defends offshoring in order to protect the corporate profits that are derived by shipping production overseas to exploit cheap labor and avoid paying US taxes.

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