President-elect Donald Trump accomplished what many people saw as his first victory on the manufacturing front this week, as he persuaded a furnace factory in Indiana not to move up to 1,000 jobs to Mexico.
Many saw it as a step toward fulfilling Trump's promise of reviving well-paying factory jobs. Yet the number of jobs saved at the Carrier factory is still extremely small compared with the number of manufacturing jobs that have been lost in the United States in recent years — so small, in fact, that these kinds of deals alone seem unlikely to do much to revive the manufacturing industry.
Since 2000, the United States lost about 5 million jobs, from 17.3 million to 12.3 million. The number of manufacturing jobs bottomed out in 2010, at about 11.5 million and has risen in the years since.
The chart below shows just how those 1,000 compare with the vast number of manufacturing jobs lost across the country in the past decade and a half.
Those figures mean that Trump could negotiate a Carrier-like deal every week for the rest of his presidency, and still restore only about 4 percent of the manufacturing jobs lost since 2000, as economist Paul Krugman tweeted Wednesday:
If Trump did a Carrier-style deal every week for the next 4 years, he could bring back 4% of the manufacturing jobs lost since 2000.
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) November 30, 2016
Indiana alone has lost a net 147,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000 — meaning the Carrier jobs represent only 0.2 percent of manufacturing jobs lost in the state in that period. As the New York Times points out, Indiana has also added about 300,000 private-sector jobs in the same period, but nearly three-quarters of those have been service-sector jobs, which on average pay less.
Liberals were also quick to argue that the effects of President Obama’s bailout of the auto industry during the recession dwarfed the number of jobs saved in the Carrier deal. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the program had created 805,000 jobs over eight years, not including jobs that were saved, such as at Carrier.
“So, if he does that 804 more times, he will have matched the standard set by President Obama — at least when it comes to creating manufacturing jobs,” Earnest said.
Note: A previous version of this post said the Carrier plant manufactures air conditioners. It manufactures gas furnaces.
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