The president’s anti-trade agenda and a pandemic-induced recession have combined to shutter factories and accelerate trends toward automation.
Four years after he won the Midwest by vowing to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing workforce, President Donald Trump is campaigning for reelection on a job well done. The numbers tell a different story.
Trump’s anti-trade agenda and a pandemic-induced recession have combined to shutter factories and accelerate decades-old trends toward automation, eliminating hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, many for good, including in the Rust Belt states he needs to win in November.
But the White House’s trade wars kicked the sector into another slump in 2019, with Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania facing declines or plateaus in manufacturing employment even back in February — well before Covid-19 forced layoffs at dozens of plants. As of July — the most recent month for which data is available — each state is down between 20,000 and 40,000 workers from pre-pandemic levels.
Yet the president is framing his policies as an unmitigated success.