Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Growing Factory Jobs can Provide New Opportunities for Workers of Color

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Library of Congress

We explain how in a new video.

On Sunday, the nation will celebrate Juneteenth. The newest federal holiday offers our country a moment to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States and reflect on the work that remains to create equity for all Americans.

That includes manufacturing, a sector that traditionally offered a path to the middle class for Black Americans and other workers of color. Unfortunately, when factories were offshored starting in the late 20th century, workers of color also suffered the most.

But now our nation is at a unique moment. We’re about to rebuild our infrastructure, the clean energy sector is growing at a rapid rate, and there’s momentum to bring supply chains home.

We explain in a new video how the United States can seize this moment to create millions of new, well-paid jobs for American workers, begin to close racial wealth gaps, and offer new opportunities for Black workers and other workers of color.

I truly believe that manufacturing can play a key role in addressing racial inequality.

Manufacturing still offers better wages compared to other industries, especially for workers without a college degree. Black workers without a degree earn $5,000 more per year in manufacturing than in non-manufacturing industries, a 17.9% wage premium, according to a 2022 report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Hispanic workers, meanwhile, earn $4,800 more per year (17.8%), while Asian American/Pacific Islanders earn $4,000 more (14.3%).

A manufacturing job is more likely to offer health insurance and other benefits, too. It’s also more likely to be unionized, which can provide even better pay and benefits for workers.

If we want to create these opportunities for more workers of color, we have to get the right policy in place. That includes investing in critical manufacturing and applying Buy America to ensure taxpayer money is reinvested back into American workers and communities. It also includes skills training programs to ensure folks know about these jobs and are prepared for them.

And, it includes a willingness to enforce our trade laws to ensure the next generation of American workers are able to compete on a level playing field.

Please take a moment to watch the video, and be sure to check out the EPI report as well.

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