As the Democratic Party seems unable to gain traction on a variety of issues, including gun control, and environmental and economic legislation, Yahoo asked Democratic and liberal voters to write about one issue they’d like their party leaders to make a top priority now. Here’s one.
COMMENTARY | Detroit, once a major hub of the automobile industry, filed for bankruptcy this past week, jeopardizing not only the public, but putting at risk the jobs of firemen and women, police officers, and all city workers in both the public and private sector. This is just another affect of the outsourcing of jobs, and movement of major manufacturers to other countries that began with the North American Free Trade Agreement during Bill Clinton’s administration, and which was passed by both the senate and congress. Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame.
Corporate America, which includes both manufacturing companies like Mattel, Hasbro, Microsoft, Apple, Rubbermaid, HP, Maytag, Kodak, Boeing and more, along with most industries who once made parts and other products for those companies are long gone. The largest number of jobs that are being outsourced today are tech. companies like Dell, IBM, and Intel.
And with each new trade agreement that is signed, that number will increase. To complicate matters, China, Japan, and other countries that make the majority of our manufactured goods, deliberately devalue their currency to make it more difficult for businesses in the U.S. to make a profit from their exports to those countries. Most countries also keep their markets closed to many American products.
Most American workers are employed in the service industry, which is made up of jobs in insurance, food service, tourism, shipping, in hotels and hotel management, sales, customer service, retail, beauticians, auto mechanics and sales, etc. These jobs typically pay lower wage of under $10 per hour and many of these businesses keep employees working at less than 40 hours per week to avoid paying sick or personal leave, paid vacations, health insurance, or retirement. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that more than 97 percent of the jobs added to U.S. payrolls from 1990 to 2002 were provided by the service-producing sector. A growing number of jobs are now part time, intermittent, placed with temporary job agencies, or in the form of unpaid internships for high school and college students.
In 1984, the number of jobs in manufacturing was relatively comparable to the number of jobs in the services, but by 1999, the service industry employed about twice as many individuals as manufacturing or government. In addition, more and more service jobs are being outsourced including call centers, technical support, and medical billing which will cut into the American job market even more.
Although America exports billions in oil, consumer goods and automotive products, it imports even more. This is why the U.S. has a trade deficit of $540 billion, although the current republican and tea party majority in congress would have the public believe that cutting funding for social programs, social security and Medicare, civil servant job positions, and tax breaks (most of which benefit low and middle income families like the child care tax credit) would solve all of our economic problems. For more on the economic impact of this, see U.S. trade deficit. According to the U.S. Department of Labor and Forrester Research, Inc., outsourcing is expected to expand in numbers.
In conclusion, if this trend continues, the disparity between the rich and the middle class will continue to spiral out of control, putting millions of Americans into poverty. Without tax revenue, most of which comes from small businesses and middle class workers, and without the creation of more manufacturing jobs, companies, or increased consumer spending, the deficit will continue to grow, imports of manufactured goods will increase as more and more small businesses are put out of business. This will, in return, create a growing number of Americans who will be forced to turn to public assistance and food assistance to provide for their children and themselves, not out of choice but out of necessity.