Only killing robots can save the US manufacturing jobs – building the wall or introducing tariffs will not help.

by Raša Karapandža

Are US manufacturing jobs lost to Mexico? In the year 2000. there were about 19 million manufacturing jobs in the US and there were about 8 million manufacturing jobs in Mexico. By the 2010. the US lost about 6 million manufacturing jobs. During the same period Mexico gained only 200,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. So, of about 6 million manufacturing jobs lost in the US since 2000, at best 3% are are lost to Mexico.

At the same time the US manufacturing industry output fell by only about 4%, about 8 times less than the 30% decline in employment. Therefore, productivity per worker in the US manufacturing industry went up by about 40%. Manufacturing output In Mexico fell between 2000 and 2010 by about 1%. The rise in employment in manufacturing industry in Mexico was thus almost only due to a decline in productivity.

The main reason for the decline in manufacturing employment in the US is increase in productivity – the jobs are not in Mexico, as manufacturing employment in Mexico increased only enough to cover the loss in productivity that Mexico’s manufacturing industry experienced in that period.

So, go ahead build the Wall and introduce tariffs, but it will not save you the manufacturing jobs. But killing all the robots might help.