The Who’s Better Off Game:Transport Production Workers

Earlier this year, the Bush administration floated the concept of counting fast food employees as manufacturing workers. Why? Perhaps because traditional production jobs — like car and truck builders — are harder and harder to find. True, if you’re going to be an assembly line worker, you’re better off at a carmaker than just about anywhere else. But that isn’t saying much…

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Nationwide, carmakers added about 20,000 assembly-line jobs between 2000 and 2003. But they’re hard to find. In the two largest car-producing states, Michigan, and Ohio, assembly-line jobs dropped by 15 and 16 percent, respectively. And in California, where the auto industry actually employs more team assemblers than in any other state, jobs dropped by a whopping 21 percent. What’s more, incomes have slipped, too. In Michigan, real income for team assemblers dropped by more than 5 percent between 2000 and 2003, and in California and Ohio, real wages slipped by between 2.5 and 3 perecent.

Other auto industry employees are even worse off. Welders, for instance. Nationwide, there are almost 5 percent fewer welder jobs at auto plants than in 2000. And in some states, like Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the job loss has been staggering. In Ohio, there are almost 19 percent fewer welders employed in car and truck production than in 2000. In Illinois and Pennsylvania, the job loss is closer to 27 percent.

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