The Manufacturing Jobs Score, 1949-2011

Colin Gordon
Stephen Herzenberg
Publication Date: 
October 15, 2012

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Jointly released with the Iowa Policy Project

Manufacturing Jobs Gained or Lost by Presidential Administration, 1948-2011

Click here for an interactive chart of manufacturing jobs gain or loss by presidential administration since 1948

In September, prompted by President Clinton’s discussion of the overall U.S. “jobs score” under Republican and Democratic Presidents since 1961, we analyzed trends since 1949 in manufacturing employment by presidential administration.[1] Manufacturing jobs have particular significance because they pay better (even today) than jobs in other sectors to equivalent groups of workers, and because they leverage more related employment (up and down the supply chain) and more export growth than any other sector. In addition, manufacturing workers and many manufacturing-intensive regions (e.g., in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin) have political significance: their swings back and forth between the two parties often decide the outcome of presidential elections. 

Since the release of our national manufacturing jobs score analysis, we learned that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) maintains data that make it possible to examine trends in manufacturing employment by state since 1939.[2]The rest of this briefing paper contains three sections.

Manufacturing Jobs by Presidential Administration Since 1948

Click here for an interactive chart of manufacturing jobs gain or loss by state since 1948

In the first, we explore manufacturing employment trends since 1948 nationally, in four multi-state regions, and in individual states. In the subsequent section, we detail the findings for a single state, Pennsylvania. (The charts in the Pennsylvania section, which we provide online for all states, invite similar analysis of other states.) The last part of the paper considers what our numbers mean, drawing on our published work on the national manufacturing jobs trends.

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[1] See Colin Gordon and Stephen Herzenberg, Bill Clinton Was Right That Dems Create More Jobs Than GOPers -- and Here's the Scoreboard for Good Jobs Making Real Things, Alternet, available online.

[2] The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) maintains two state level data series on manufacturing employment both derived from Current Employment Statistics (CES) data. From 1939 to 2001 the BLS identified manufacturing employment using the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC); the data are available here From 1990 to current the BLS indentifies manufacturing employment based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  Because what is considered manufacturing differs between the SIC and NAICS the two series are not directly comparable. At the aggregate level—manufacturing as a whole, the two series differ only slightly, and changes over time for years in which both series exist produce similar results for states and the nation.