We just got the latest sign the US is losing manufacturing jobs — the opposite of what Trump’s trade wars were supposed to accomplish
- The US unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in half a century in September as the economy created jobs for a record 108th straight month.
- But in the manufacturing sector, employers eliminated jobs.
- While President Donald Trump has pledged to revive factory jobs in the US, that pocket of the economy dipped deeper into a recession last month.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The US unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in half a century in September as the economy created jobs for a record 108th straight month. But in the manufacturing sector, employers eliminated jobs.
The Labor Department said Friday that manufacturers shed 2,000 jobs last month, adding to concerns about the sector. While President Donald Trump has pledged to revive factory jobs in the US, that pocket of the economy dipped deeper into a recession last month.
“The most worrying figure in the jobs report is the overall decline in manufacturing employment,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist for the employment site ZipRecruiter. “In 2018, manufacturing workers saw their opportunities expand and their wages rise. In 2019, by contrast, manufacturing workers are worrying about the prospect of pink slips.”
The decline in US factory activity has in part reflected a broader slowdown across the globe, a development Trump sought to address as he ignited trade disputes with major trading partners last year. But those moves have put further pressure on businesses, as they raise costs and cast uncertainty on investment plans.
Read more: Trump promised to revive US manufacturing. But the sector just plunged deeper into a recession.
“A big part of the story for the economy as a whole, of course, is the trade war,” said Eric Winograd, the senior US economist at AllianceBernstein. “We can see that in the payrolls figures too. Manufacturing has been the hardest-hit industry by trade policy, and, not coincidentally, manufacturing employment has suffered.”
The Trump administration plans to escalate tariffs on China and the European Union several times before the end of the year. Hundreds of companies have requested exemptions from the increases, warning that associated costs and uncertainty could hurt employment plans.
In its exemption request, Elkay Manufacturing wrote that “continuing to add tariffs to these necessary accessory products is not protective of U.S. manufacturers, and, in fact, would cause significant harm to the U.S. sink business that Elkay has fought so hard to protect, including the potential loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs.”
Now read: Ray Dalio warns the White House’s latest plan to clamp down on Chinese investment could soon become a reality. Here’s why he thinks ‘all market participants need to worry.’