Textile imports adding to jobless recovery

Willie Paulk says that when New Holland officials came to look at a building for a new tractor assembly plant in Dublin, Ga., she was so excited she swept out the 60,000-square-foot building by herself.

“I got there at 5 a.m. because it was August, and it was hot,” said Ms. Paulk, executive director of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority. “When they arrived, the company president stopped at the front door and asked the plant manager if he liked the building. When the manager said yes, the president said, ‘That's good enough for me,’ and got back in his car and left.”

Ms. Paulk told that story while welcoming editors to a media event in Dublin for the launch of Case IH's new series of Farmall tractors.

She also told them why she was excited: “For years, our main industries were agriculture and textiles. In the last three years, we've lost more than 7,000 jobs because of the closing of textile plants.

“So I think you can see what a plant like this means to our community.”

There's an old joke about a college professor who was giving a speech on the need for U.S. industries to become more streamlined to better compete with manufacturers in other countries. He noted the same could be said for the U.S. government and for positions in other parts of American society… except, of course, for professors with tenure.”

There must be a lot of college professors with tenure working in the current administration, judging from the clamor over job losses in places like Laurens County, Ga. While textile industry leaders have vowed to make this a major campaign issue, some administration officials are downplaying the development.

In releasing the White House's annual Economic Report of the President on Feb. 10, N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said the “outsourcing” of U.S. jobs to places like India, Pakistan and China would be good for the economy.

The report also forecast that employers would add 2.6 million new jobs this year, which would be a great accomplishment, considering that in 2003 a similar prediction of 1.7 million new jobs was more than 1.7 million jobs off the mark.

“This off-shoring of jobs is just the latest manifestation of gains from trade that economists have talked about for centuries,” Mankiw told reporters.

“Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade. When a good or service is produced more cheaply abroad, it makes more sense to import it than make or provide it domestically.”

A few days later, President Bush seemed to be distancing himself from his chief economist's statements, saying the country needed to “act to make sure more jobs are created at home and that people are more likely to retain their jobs.”

Maybe the president also needs to give Dr. Mankiw a taste of what it's like to be without a job.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.