In the context of extensive discussion of “the jobs score” under Republican and Democratic presidents, the Keystone Research Center (KRC) and Iowa Policy Project (IPP) today released an analysis of manufacturing jobs growth (or decline) in each state across the 16 presidential administration since 1948, nine Republican and seven Democratic. The results show striking differences, with significant gains in most states under Democrats but significant losses under Republicans. Democratic administrations have added between 160,000 and 250,000 jobs each year they have been in office (depending on estimation method used). Republican Presidents have lost manufacturing jobs at about the same rate.
Two interactive graphics–at the end of this post–allow interested users to view changes in manufacturing employment across presidential terms: a map allows users to view gains or losses in each of the 50 states within each presidential term; and a bar chart allows users to see job gains or losses in a single state in all presidential terms.
“While some of these results may be attributable to Republican presidents’ bad luck” said KRC Executive Director and economist, Dr. Stephen Herzenberg, “the differences seem too large and consistent for that to be the whole story. In part, the manufacturing jobs score mirrors the overall jobs score—the economy as a whole has grown faster under Democrats so the manufacturing sector has too.”
The two think tanks undertook this manufacturing jobs analysis in the wake of debate about the overall “jobs score” spurred by President Clinton’s speech to the Democratic convention. Manufacturing jobs have particular significance because they pay better to equivalent groups of workers (even today) than jobs in other sector. Manufacturing also leverages more related employment (up and down the supply chain and in consumer industries) and more export growth than any other sector. Across the political spectrum, manufacturing is recognized as being central to innovation and long-run increases in U.S. living standards and competitiveness.
KRC and IPP ran the numbers three ways to see if the results were robust across alternate definitions of the period for which each president is held accountable. One method compared employment in the first quarter of each presidential term to the first quarter of the next term. Another method compared employment in the first year of each term to the first year of the next term. The third method compared employment from the first year of each term to the last year of each term—so that no president is held responsible for any employment changes when another president is in office. The findings were similar using all three methods:
Across the nine Republican terms, in the U.S. as a whole, manufacturing employment fell between 7.3 million and 9 million, depending on method.
- Across the seven Democratic terms, manufacturing employment rose by 5.4 million to 7 million.
- Within four U.S. regions, the balance between job gains under Democrats and job losses under Republicans varies, reflecting long-term regional shifts away from the Northeast and the Midwest and towards the South and the West. Averaging results using the three estimation methods:
- In the Northeast, about 4 million manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administration and nearly 900,000 gained in Democratic.
- In the Midwest, about 3.2 million manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations and about 2 million created in Democratic.
- In the South, about 925,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations ; and about 2.1 million manufacturing jobs created in Democratic.
- In the West, about 380,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations and about 1.55 million jobs created in Democratic.
- In individual states, manufacturing job score differences are most pronounced in Northeastern and Midwestern states. For example (again averaging results using the three methods):
- In New York, about 1.3 million jobs were lost in Republican administrations and about 120,000 gained in Democratic administrations.
- In Pennsylvania, nearly 1.1 million manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations, while 280,000 were gained in Democratic.
- In Michigan, about 750,000 jobs have been lost in Republican administrations and a third this number gained in Democratic.
- In Ohio, about 890,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Republican terms, versus gains of 430,000 in Democratic.
- Several manufacturing-intensive Midwestern states performed better on balance across all administrations, raising questions about their state-specific industrial structure, public policies or other characteristics that explain this result:
- In Minnesota, just over 40,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations, and just over 150,000 gained under Democrats.
- In Iowa, nearly 30,000 manufacturing jobs were lost under Republican presidents, and 100,000 gained under Democratic.
- In Wisconsin, 135,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations, while 200,000 were gained in Democratic.
- In the South, most individual states reflected the regional experience of half as many jobs being lost under Republicans as were gained under Democrats. For example:
- In Tennessee, about 75,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations and about 150,000 gained in Democratic.
- In North Carolina, which underperformed the Southern average, 110,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations and 185,000 gained in Democratic.
- In the West
- In California, the nation’s most populous state, over 400,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations, while 1 million were gained under Democrats.
- In Washington, 35,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administration and four times as many—140,000—gained in Democratic.
- In Colorado, about 3,000 jobs were gained under Republican administrations, versus 83,000 to 90,000 jobs under Democratic.
- There were seven states in which jobs performance was slightly better under Republicans (South Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico) or virtually identical under Republicans and Democrats (Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Utah).
“Both cyclical and long-term structural job loss in manufacturing have been larger in Republican Presidential terms,” said Professor Colin Gordon of IPP. “The overall manufacturing jobs score gap is big: if the manufacturing jobs score under Republicans had matched that under Democrats, the U.S. would have roughly twice as many manufacturing jobs today as it does. The U.S. manufacturing jobs share would be similar to Germany.”
An article by Gordon and Herzenberg on the national numbers published by Alternet includes a more extensive discussion of policy differences that could help explain the manufacturing
jobs score advantage of Democratic Presidents. The most important is the greater weight Democrats tend to place on keeping unemployment low compared to inflation. Democratic Presidents have also been slightly more supportive of manufacturing-specific “industrial policies,” although many observers question the impact of U.S. industrial policies. On trade, another key policy issue for the manufacturing sector, Democratic and Republican administrations are characterized more by similarity than differences.