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Michigan NewsThe Biden unemployment problem in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania

The Biden unemployment problem in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania

Michigan – Generally speaking, President Biden has managed to recover all the manufacturing jobs lost during the pandemic, and the U.S. manufacturing workforce has grown by more than 146,000 compared to five years prior. Yet, some crucial battleground states have faced significant setbacks due to the closure of manufacturing facilities. In the trio of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, there has been a decline of 39,000 manufacturing positions over the last half-decade. These states have not seen a return to pre-2019 manufacturing activity levels.

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The migration of numerous jobs to regions like China and Mexico, as well as to southern and western U.S. states, has had far-reaching impacts. Communities have felt the sting of industry loss; take for instance Milwaukee, which just saw the shutdown of its Master Lock Co. factory—a plant with 85 years of history. Once upon a time, employees at this facility could earn up to $100,000 annually.

This factory once formed part of Milwaukee’s 30th Street Industrial Corridor—a hub bustling with factories that attracted multitudes of African American families (who represent 38.6% of the city’s populace). At this moment, Milwaukee’s black community faces a daunting unemployment rate of 9.3%.

“Milwaukee remains the most deeply distressed city in the country for African Americans,” Marc Levine, a University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee economic development expert, told Bloomberg.

These challenges in reviving manufacturing employment could spell trouble for Biden during upcoming elections; notably in Wisconsin where previous voting margins were remarkably narrow with only 20,682 votes making the difference in 2020. Levine observed that metro factory jobs once heavily concentrated within city boundaries have dwindled down to less than one-quarter.

Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have lost 39,000 manufacturing positions in last 5 years. These states have not seen a return to pre-2019 manufacturing activity levels.

However, in solidarity with these challenges faced by industrial sectors, in December it was announced by President Biden’s administration that Milwaukee’s 30th Street Industrial Corridor is being considered for a substantial federal grant amounting to $50 million. The purpose is to renovate derelict factory sites and introduce new apprenticeship programs.

“This kind of factory closure is exactly the reason President Biden is investing in communities that have been hollowed out by Congressional Republicans’ trickle-down economics,” White House spokesman Michael Kikukawa said in a statement to Bloomberg. “The $50 million grant that Milwaukee is a finalist for would create “good-paying jobs and economic opportunity,” he said. “This manufacturing boom is disproportionately benefiting communities that have too often been left behind — like Milwaukee’s 30th Street Corridor.”

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To put things in a larger temporal context: under prior President Donald Trump’s tenure—before COVID-19 wreaked havoc worldwide—a total of 43,000 jobs were lost across various sectors including manufacturing; with Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin combined accounting for nearly half of this decrease.