Low-wage manufacturing is on the rise

by Laura Clawson

factory-35083_640Traditionally, manufacturing jobs paid well, at least for jobs that didn’t require a college education. They were a foundation of America’s broad middle class. But no more. There’s been an obvious trend in low-wage, non-union manufacturing jobs, and now, the Washington Post rounds up some of the depressing numbers:

U.S. manufacturers have added a half-million new workers since the end of 2009, making the sector one of the few bright spots in an otherwise weak recovery. And yet there were 4 percent fewer union factory workers in 2012 than there were in 2010, according to federal survey data. On balance, all of the job gains in manufacturing have been non-union. [...]It used to be that factory jobs paid substantially better than other jobs in the private sector, particularly for workers who didn’t go to college. That’s less true today, especially for non-union workers in the industry, who earn salaries that are about 7 percent lower than similar workers who are represented by a union.

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