Manufacturing Unemployment

The Institute for Supply Management’s index of manufacturing activity “reached a 13-year high in September.” The industry is so healthy, employment is — and has been — rising. Yes, despite offshoring, robots, and consumers’ shift from goods to services, U.S. factory jobs grew under Barack Obama, and continue to increase under Donald Trump. Growth has been 9 percent since March 2010.

In contrast, New Mexico’s manufacturing-employment implosion continues.

The number of factory jobs here peaked in late 1997. Since then, we’re down a stunning 38.7 percent. (See chart below.)

Located in a booming region of the country, with no weather-related disasters, relatively low costs, two interstates, and next to America’s third-largest trading partner, New Mexico should be a manufacturing star. But it isn’t.

Each of the Land of Enchantment’s neighbors has reversed its manufacturing-jobs decline. (Utah’s “maker” sector is booming.) But saddled with a cumbersome tax system, rampant welfarism, a “workforce” not terribly interested in working, and no right-to-work law, the state doesn’t hold much appeal to manufacturers.

Recent voter-decided policy victories are encouraging. But more — much more — needs to be done if New Mexico is to join the nation’s manufacturing-employment rebound.

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