Iowa lost more than 20,000 manufacturing jobs from 2000-2006, according to the Iowa Policy Project’s September 2007 State of Working Iowa report. The report shows that these were good jobs, providing a living wage of $41,400 per year with benefits such as health care.
Overall wages are down, and new jobs pay thousands less with fewer providing benefits. Furthermore, wages in those sectors of the Iowa economy that are growing pay close to $9,000 less per year on average than manufacturing.
Iowa has lost roughly 12,000 jobs directly due to unfair trade rules. Since Congress passed NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1993 and 1994, the Department of Labor recorded roughly 12,109 trade-related job losses in Iowa under its narrow and difficult-to-qualify-for trade adjustment assistance program. These include 2,072 at the Maytag plant in Newton and 582 at Intier Automotive Seating in 2006, 253 in Gillette in 2002, and 300 at the Ertl Company in 1996, among many others.
The U.S. has lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs during the NAFTA-WTO period. The nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that Iowa could have created tens of thousands of good jobs (and the United States many millions) with a different trade model that emphasized a balancing of the over $700 billion trade deficit.
Since Fast Track was enacted in 1974, real hourly wages for the average American worker have increased by only a nickel, despite a near doubling of worker productivity. Fast Track – the negotiating process that brought us NAFTA, the WTO and other bad trade deals was conceived by President Nixon as a way to grab Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy.
All working families are impacted by unfair corporate trade deals, not just those that lose jobs. Union and non-union workers live under constant threat of job offshoring and have less leverage to bargain for living wages and benefits. This hurts not only workers that lose their jobs, but workers whose jobs cannot be offshored.