Trump, Trade, and ‘Real Wealth’

Jerry Pacheco, the executive director of the New Mexico Small Business Development Centers Network‘s International Business Accelerator, is a consistent voice for free trade in the pages of the Albuquerque Journal.

His latest column is a must-read. Pacheco avers that America, under its new chief executive, “must decide whether we retreat as a leader in the international arena, and if we abdicate our role as the bastion of open markets and capitalism.”

Errors of Enchantment has previously explored the role trade is playing in New Mexico’s economy. It’s just about the only bright spot in an otherwise gruesome picture of job- and wealth-creation. But a comment in response to Pacheco’s piece offered an example of protectionists’ faulty thinking — and the kind of myth-perpetuation that hurts economic development in New Mexico.

According to the commenter: “Manufacturing creates real wealth. Service jobs condemn workers to a life of mediocrity at best.”

That’s a common belief, but it’s far from the truth. The service sector provides high-paying jobs to tens of millions of Americans. As the Foundation tracks the site-selection decisions made by businesses, as part of our analysis of the economic health of right-to-work states, we’ve been struck by how many investments fall outside the manufacturing sector. Plenty of newly minted jobs are not assembly-line positions. Logistics, research, and financial services are just a few of the industries supplying solid livelihoods to their workers.

In New Mexico, service positions can be very lucrative. While the median hourly wage in the Land of Enchantment is $15.54, the non-managerial jobs below are examples of work here that pays much more:

General Dentists: $78.38

Chemical Engineers: $55.85

Optometrists: $54.28

Mathematicians: $52.17

Information Security Analysts: $49.50

Aerospace Engineers: $48.49

Biomedical Engineers:$48.06

Personal Financial Advisors: $45.74

Computer and Information Research Scientists: $39.75

Petroleum Engineers: $39.34

Veterinarians: $38.16

Hydrologists: $37.01

Chemists: $34.90

Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters: $33.41

Logisticians: $33.29

But now back to trade. The nation was “the world’s largest services market, and remained the largest global cross-border exporter and importer of services in 2014.” America, Inc. has a surplus in services.

Real economic development doesn’t pursue the “right” kind of jobs. It lowers the burden of taxes and regulations so that the private sector can grow in every way — from agriculture to manufacturing to services. That’s the approach Donald Trump, and New Mexico’s governor and lawmakers, should take.