He continues to call himself “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
As we shepherd in a new year with a 4.7 percent unemployment rate and a slight hourly wage increase, we’re all waiting to see how President-elect Donald J. Trump will deliver on his bold election campaign claims.
Perhaps more than any leader in recent history, Trump is being watched (or read, in regards to his Twitter account) with an unprecedented level of scrutiny.
— CNN (@CNN) January 11, 2017
In a fact sheet on his campaign promises website, Trump says his pro-growth economic policy will create 25 million jobs over the next decade and “unbridled economic growth,” mostly as a result of tax cuts, deregulation, and new trade deals.
But what will that look like, asks Giacomo Santangelo, professor of economics at Fordham University in New York. He says if Trump is capable of removing job-killing regulations and renegotiating trade to become more pro-US, the biggest question becomes what kind of jobs will be created.
“I think the question is whether or not President-elect Trump intends to refocus the US economy away from services – because we are a service based economy. You don’t send your kids to school to work in a factory, you send them to school to become doctors and lawyers and financial professionals and such,” said Santangelo.
“We’re a service-oriented economy, and the jobs that President-elect Trump is really talking about appear to be manufacturing jobs. We don’t do that.”
Critics of Trump’s jobs plan say manufacturing jobs are never coming back to the US, despite those promises winning over blue-collar voters in Michigan and the Rust Belt, where factories have disappeared.
Professor Santangelo says US construction workers who have been unemployed for extended periods of time have nothing to gain from the US no longer trading with Mexico and China.
“We don’t buy cars from China. We don’t buy cars from Mexico. The only way that the United Auto Workers benefit from Mr. Trump no longer trading with Mexico and China is in the case of what happened with Toyota, where he said he would penalize Toyota if they moved their plants to Mexico.”
And it’s just not that simple, he argues.
“That doesn’t create jobs for the United States. So it’s rather confusing. And when he said, “I’m going to stop trading, and it’s going to create jobs,” everyone cheered, and no one in the media raised their hand and went, “How?”
It’s finally happening – Fiat Chrysler just announced plans to invest $1BILLION in Michigan and Ohio plants, adding 2000 jobs. This after…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2017
Ford said last week that it will expand in Michigan and U.S. instead of building a BILLION dollar plant in Mexico. Thank you Ford & Fiat C!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2017
While Ford has agreed to keep its plant in Michigan, creating 700 jobs, General Motors this month announced its first layoffs since 2010, eliminating about 3,300 jobs at two plants in Michigan and one in Ohio.
The chief executive of United Technologies, Greg Hayes, agreed to invest $16 million in one of its Carrier factories as part of a Trump deal to keep some jobs in Indiana instead of moving them to Mexico.
In an interview on CNBC, Hayes said that money would go toward automation.
“What that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs,” he said.
There are around five million fewer manufacturing employees than there were 16 years ago. Even if manufacturing returns to the US, jobs are unlikely to come with it in high numbers, as has happened in many other parts of the world.
In a recent article on political website FiveThirtyEight, chief economics writer Ben Casselman said automation has rendered many low-skilled manufacturing jobs obsolete.
“Since the recession ended in 2009, manufacturing output — the value of all the goods that U.S. factories produce, adjusted for inflation — has risen by more than 20 percent, because of a combination of ‘reshoring’ and increased domestic demand. But manufacturing employment is up just 5 percent,” he writes.
However, while some jobs are being displaced by automation, the change is also creating new ones.
“I know Silicon Valley types think the whole world will be automated, and we can just get rid of human beings, which I’m sure they would like, but the reality is you still need people,” says geographer and Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, Joel Kotkin.
“The interesting thing is, in an automated factory, the jobs that are there are much better-paying jobs because they require a certain degree of skill. We have to remember, the majority of scientists and engineers in this country work basically in manufacturing.”
Kotkin says Trump’s election was a big win for the red states economically, where the current levels of regulation are stifling for industries like energy, manufacturing, and agriculture.
“It’s very narrow to just look at manufacturing production jobs and not look at the ancillary effects of that. Let’s say you have a factory and it’s got 100 people, down from 500 people 30 years ago, but it’s still producing products. It’s supporting service jobs. It’s supporting marketing jobs. It’s supporting research jobs. When you allow all that stuff to go offshore you not only lose the production jobs, you lose the jobs around it.”
Giacomo Santangelo says he is still waiting to see the President-elect’s plans to deliver on his economic promises.
“At this point, there’s a lot of wand waving and promising that we’re going to do magic, we’re going to create jobs. And how’s that going to work?” he asks.
We’ll all undoubtedly be watching closely to see what the impacts will be over the coming months and years.