Disappearing factory jobs
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Sep 13 09:19:56 MDT 2003
NY Times, Sept. 13, 2003
As Factory Jobs Disappear, Workers Have Few Options
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
CANTON, Ohio, Sept. 12 For nearly 30 years, Jim Greathouse was part of
the blue-collar elite, a tool-and-die man who sometimes earned more than
$50,000 a year because his job, making the precision metal molds that
factories use to shape parts, required such exacting skills.
But in June, Mr. Greathouse, 55, lost his job at the Hoover vacuum cleaner
factory here, and with so many other factories laying off people, he is at
a loss about what to do.
"What does it do when you take away all these jobs from people who support
families, who raise families?" he asked. "Manufacturing has been the
strength of this country. If we can't make anything here anymore, what does
that do? The fabric of this society is falling apart."
Mr. Greathouse has a lot of company. In three years, Ohio has lost more
than 160,000 factory jobs, representing one-sixth of its total. That is but
a small fraction of the 2.7 million manufacturing jobs lost nationwide in
those three years, many of them because of imports. Some economists say
that even with a boom all those jobs are not likely to return.
Factory unemployment has snowballed into a huge social and political issue
across the Midwest, after manufacturing in the region boomed in the 1990's.
President Bush gave a speech about manufacturing losses on Labor Day in
Ohio, and the Democratic presidential candidates are pressing the issue.
A wide range of figures suggests that the economy is likely to surge, but
economists predict unemployment will remain almost unchanged at nearly 6
percent through the 2004 presidential election.
With its century-old stone buildings and handsome brick factories, Canton
was long a booming industrial center, but the area has been hit by so many
factory closings, bankruptcies and layoffs that many workers are losing
hope. Many of the unemployed are reluctantly turning to less steady or
lower-paying jobs like hospital aide. Some are studying computer
technology. [Like going from the frying pan into the fire.]
"I've applied for many jobs, and they politely tell me I'm too old, that
they're hoping to find someone they can train and keep for a long time,"
said Patty Reich, who lost her job as a metallurgical technician at the
Republic Steel mill. "For someone like me who is unemployed at age 54, we
don't have too much light at the end of the tunnel."
Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org
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