February 9, 2020
Trump’s manufacturing boast doesn’t bear out
The president likes to boast that the American economy — including its manufacturing sector — is thriving under his watch. However the facts don’t support his recent State of the Union bravado
By Carmen Gentile
Amid a State of the Union replete with digs at the previous administration and against the backdrop of presidential impeachment, Trump boasted that America’s manufacturing sector is roaring back to life thanks to him.
“We are restoring our nation’s manufacturing might, even though predictions were that this could never be done,” he said.
“After losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, America has now gained 12,000 new factories under my administration.”
The facts on manufacturing, however, don’t support the president’s claims.
According to an Associated Press fact check of the president’s assertions on America’s manufacturing sector don’t bear out:
Manufacturing has slumped in the past year, after having advanced in the prior two years. The president’s tariffs regime and slower growth worldwide hurt the sector in ways that suggest that Trump’s policies robbed it of some of its previous strength.
Factory output fell 1.3% over the past 12 months, according to the Federal Reserve. Manufacturing job gains went from more than 260,000 at the end of 2018 to a paltry 46,000 for the 12 months ended in December, according to the Labor Department. Manufacturers lost jobs last year in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the older industrial states where Trump had promised revival.
The AP’s fact check on manufacturing follows numerous reports of the manufacturing sector shrinking in battleground states in Postindustrial America.
In October, NBC News reported manufacturing job losses occurred in the postindustrial states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in the first nine months of 2019.
The report noted Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector is “more exposed to some of the growing economic anxieties because the state’s industry mix is weighted toward businesses reliant on capital and investors, like manufacturing and mining.”
A short video report by DC-based newspaper The Hill also pointed out the recent manufacturing job losses incurred by postindustrial states, according to a study by the United States Department of Labor.
Bloomberg also reported that factory positions in Pennsylvania decreased by an estimated 8,000 and 5,000 in Wisconsin in about the last year.
Delving into the minutiae of the labor department’s findings, Bloomberg reports:
The industry slipped into a recession during the first half of 2019 and one gauge of manufacturing direction, the Institute for Supply Management’s index, showed a contraction in August for the first time since 2016.
The report noted Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector is “more exposed to some Manufacturing jobs in America did increase by more than 450,000 in 2017 and 2018, a bump attributed to Trump tax cuts and environmental deregulation during his first two years in office.
But those bumps have seen their effects diminish in 2019 and experts forecast that the manufacturing sector will continue to shrink under this president.
According to a manufacturing projections for 2020 by Deloitte, “uncertainty appears likely to continue into 2020, and thus manufacturers’ optimism has experienced a noteworthy setback.”
So while the president boasts that he has saved manufacturing in key, battleground, postindustrial states, the facts simply don’t support those statements.
Carmen Gentile has worked for The New York Times and CBS News, among others. His book, "Blindsided by the Taliban," documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade while embedded with U.S. Army forces in Afghanistan.