How NAFTA and China killed jobs in chart form

I really enjoyed this long read from Brad Delong at Vox on the decline of manufacturing jobs in the U.S.  Nonetheless, it was a little long and I love how Drum pithily declares he can summarize the whole thing in a single chart.  He’s not far off:


You might want to show that to somebody next they rail against NAFTA.  That said, there’s also some good cross-national comparison that Drum nicely summarizes:

Very roughly speaking, DeLong’s argument is this: everyone agrees that Germany is the poster child for an advanced economy with a great manufacturing policy. And yet, their manufacturing employment has steadily declined for the past half century too, just like ours. So if this has happened to Germany, there’s not much of a case for suggesting that the US has done anything especially wrong over the past 50 years. We’ve simply evolved from a (relatively) poor manufacturing nation into a (relatively) rich services and technology nation. This has nothing much to do with trade policy, either. It’s just what rich countries do. What’s more, it’s a decidedly good thing overall, even if it does affect a smallish number of people badly.

But, hey, I’m sure dropping TPP and making a better deal on NAFTA will create a boom in manufacturing jobs in Ohio, PA, etc.  Oh, and I’ve got a bridge to sell you.



About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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