U.S. Manufacturing Jobs: From Carnage to Confidence

U.S. Manufacturing Jobs: From Carnage to Confidence
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
U.S. Manufacturing Jobs: From Carnage to Confidence
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
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In his inaugural address, President Trump detailed the woes facing far too many Americans, especially blue-collar workers deeply wounded by the “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.” He also proclaimed a better future of prosperity and opportunity, promising that “this American carnage stops right here, and stops right now.”

Political insiders and mainstream media critics were offended by the new president’s  candor, assailing him as an alarmist. A New York Times headline decried his “uniquely dark vision of America.” Those elites did not know the America that Trump described, because they chose not to see it. But Donald Trump correctly ascertained that decades of awful trade deals, stifling taxation and regulation, and sluggish overall growth had indeed brought misery to the Heartland.

Two years later, the media and political cognoscenti still dismiss the concerns of the tens of millions of Americans who fueled the Trump groundswell. Just last week, I tangled on-air with Rick Wilson who, in the ignoble tradition of Hillary Clinton and her “deplorables” slander, condescendingly disparaged our voters as  a “credulous rube ten-toothed base.”

Trump, like any great leader, went beyond simply identifying the problem: He proposed, and then enacted, actual solutions to rectify the anxiety afflicting far too many American workers. Now those workers are reaping incredible benefits from the jobs explosion that unfolded in 2018 due to the pro-growth policies of the Trump Boom.  

Last Friday the government payroll report revealed the creation of 312,000 new jobs -- with wages up 3.2 percent annually, the highest growth rate since 2009. These impressive gains enticed formerly discouraged Americans to re-enter the workforce, as the overall labor participation rate rose above 63 percent for the first time since 2014.

Even more importantly, the gains of the Trump expansion have flowed disproportionately to those who suffered the most in the previous slow-growth era of asset inflation, the very workers Trump identified in his campaign and inauguration speech. Blue-collar wage growth now exceeds white-collar wage growth for the first time in nearly a decade. Those opportunities abounded because manufacturing posted its best year for job growth since the 1990s. Although President Obama and countless economists regularly warned that manufacturing jobs would never return, the evidence now proves that pessimism wrong. Belying the critics who claim that Trump merely inherited growth momentum from the Obama administration, during the first two years of Trump, manufacturing jobs expanded at eight times the rate of the prior two years ending Obama’s tenure.

This rebound might also explain why Hispanics again confounded Democrats in the 2018 midterms and the GOP share of Latino votes held steady despite an incessant, false media narrative that Trump is a bigot. After all, last week’s jobs data reported an all-time record low joblessness among Hispanics at just 4.4 percent. Amazingly, of the 15 months ever recorded with a sub-5 percent Hispanic jobless rate, fully 14 of those months have occurred under the economic leadership of President Trump.

For manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and job creators, a new era of optimism reigns in America. For laborers, especially the working-class ones previously ignored or dismissed by elites, security and prosperity emerge. As this new year begins, all Americans can celebrate the rise from carnage to confidence. So far, the Trump era represents a rare political reality of promises made -- and promises kept.

Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and a CNN  political commentator. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.

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