The historic issue with manufacturing and jobs is one of demographics. Factories were built to make products. Housing was built for workers. When homes are built, retail follows and more land is given over to housing and retail. Next comes health and education services building, again decreasing land for plant expansion.
In about a decade, the factory plants were surrounded by employee/urban needs. The plants had no room to expand. The solution for the owners became one of logistics and that meant moving. The decision to move was also affected by several items: tax incentives from the states, land necessary for plant expansion, cheaper labor, better maker to market transportation, and lots of perks, eg; pre-existing industrial parks with utilities and roads already in place.
Currently, the same issue (see notes 1 & 2) plus cheaper imports that are subsidized by countries of other competing manufacturers, some of which are owned by US firms or hedge funds that are eroding the manufacturer base of basic products such as steel and iron ore.
All of this has contributed to the downturn in the bigger US cities that were heavily depended on basic manufacturing jobs that paid well and built an affluent US middle class. Now they are left with service industries with lower paying wages, a growing city population, higher unemployment and lower tax revenues for services. All of this has contributed to the angst of people wanting higher paying jobs for a better lifestyle. They are left with a feeling of hopelessness in getting ahead, of having a better life for them and their children. They are left in areas of abandoned homes, abandoned warehouses and abandoned factories. Slowly deteriorating and marking the cities, the neighborhoods and surrounding areas as surely as the bombed out areas of Europe after WWII.
Urban planning never included employment for the higher paying wages as a priority. Urban planning has and is centered on population, not will happen to the population when there are a loss higher paying jobs. Blames was laid on ”white flight, lower tax revenues, etc. Now, US cities are stuck with the fall out from the lack of including manufacturers in their urban planning. The one pivotal item that should have been at the top of their agenda for any future growth. Perhaps, in the future the owners will be included as a priority.
What can be done now? How can the US cities turn around the loss of manufacturing plants? How can the abandoned land usage be cleared enough for future expansion of any future plants? There are, no doubt, lots of other questions that need to be addressed but one thing is for sure, without the manufactures of higher cost products such as steel, the continuance of lower service jobs are the best hope for the majority of the population of US cities.
1. Domestic steel producers are competing with foreign producers heavily subsidized by their governments:
US steel industry needs level playing field – Duluth News Tribune
Congress needs to do what it can to ensure that the industry can compete fairly. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has reintroduced legislation aimed at doing this. It’s called the “Leveling the Playing Field Act.” The bill, S. 891, would strengthen protections against unfair trade practices by foreign steel producers and governments.