Business Review Board / May 13, 2016

Manufacturing’s Decline Squeezing Middle Class

Welcome to the Obama economy.

Of the nation’s 229 metropolitan areas, 203 experienced a decline in the middle class from 2000 to 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. The word not found in the report: “Obama.” If this was happening under a Republican, the responsibility of the administration occupying the White House would be the focus. The American dream used to mean a comfortable, middle-class life. If the gap between rich and poor widens, the potential for Americans to rise past the income level of their parents diminishes. And the cause behind it all is the decline of manufacturing jobs. Pew wrote: “The 10 metropolitan areas with the greatest losses in economic status from 2000 to 2014 have one thing in common — a greater than average reliance on manufacturing.” But here’s the problem: When manufacturing plants return to the U.S. from places like China, the jobs don’t come with them. Thanks to automation, fewer workers are needed to make the nation’s goods and the American economy relies on the service sector — a sector lobbying the government for a $15 minimum wage. Welcome to the Obama economy.

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