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Vacant Storefronts Are Killing Our Downtowns

One of the long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is the way it has transformed office use, threatening the viability of storefront retail in downtown office buildings. Owners of such commercial properties are now often exploring converting vacant retail space into restaurants and other experiential venues. But the range of alternative options needs to be expanded – and small-scale manufacturing offers a proven, yet often overlooked, solution. The need for alternative options is apparent from the scale of the problem. In the last quarter of 2023, the national office vacancy rate hit a record-breaking 19.6%, per Moody’s Analytics.

Organizing Rural Manufacturing Workers Matters

It’s no secret that the number of manufacturing jobs in the United States has steadily declined over the past few decades, replaced largely by low-wage work in the service sector. But in many rural communities, manufacturing is still the most important part of the local economy. In fact, manufacturing jobs account for 21 percent of all earnings for rural communities, more than triple the income from farming work. Manufacturing represents a particularly important source of employment for workers of color in many rural communities. 

No Manufacturing Renaissance, US Manufacturing Is In Trouble

President Trump is all in, touting his success in rebuilding US manufacturing. For example, in his state of the union address he claimed: We are restoring our nation’s manufacturing might, even though predictions were that this could never be done. After losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, America has now gained 12,000 new factories under my administration.

Chris Hedges Visits Indiana City To See Impact Of Job Flight

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig - In a special edition of "On Contact," Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges visits Anderson, Ind., formerly a center of car production. He witnesses the economic and psychological impact on workers caused by the flight of General Motors jobs overseas. The city has changed dramatically since the 1970s when, at the peak of American automobile manufacturing, a third of Anderson's 70,000 residents worked at General Motors. Over the past 30 years, Anderson's population has decreased as thousands upon thousands of well-paid union jobs have been lost. Watch the video above in which Hedges interviews people in what used to be "big car country" and documents what's become of Anderson now.

Mississippi Autoworkers Mobilize

By Michelle Chen for Dissent - The workers at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, had high hopes when the state-of-the-art factory complex moved in fourteen years ago to a small, majority black town where more than a quarter of residents live in poverty and decent jobs are scarce. As the manufacturing economy stagnated in the early 2000s, Nissan brought a streak of Clinton-era economic optimism into this struggling corner of the South. The global auto giant erected a multinational enterprise that is now the largest local employer, with more than 5,000 blue-collar jobs for an area with a workforce of fewer than 8,000. The factory’s launch was intended to make Canton a keystone of Mississippi’s “advanced manufacturing” growth agenda, promising decades of job development. But paint technician Morris Mock sees his hopes evaporate every day on the line. After fourteen years at the plant, he says, “People are hurting inside of my factory.” His fellow coworkers have been concerned by what they see as increasingly unstable working conditions and general deterioration in benefits and safety protections. A few years ago they campaigned to organize with the United Auto Workers (UAW). Since then, he says, the workers have faced growing hostility from management for seeking to unionize...

Public Cost Of Low-Wage Production Jobs In Manufacturing

By Ken Jacobs, Zohar Perla, Ian Perry and Dave Graham-Squire for UC Berkely Labor Center - Much attention has been given in recent years to low-wage work in the fast-food industry, big-box retail, and other service sector industries in the U.S. The rise of low-wage business models in the service sector has often been contrasted to business models of the past, when blue collar jobs in the manufacturing industry supported a large middle class in the United States. Recent research by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), however, found that manufacturing production wages now rank in the bottom half of all jobs in the United States.

More Than Third Of Counties Median Income Dropped 10% Since 2000

By Tim Henderson for The PEW Charitable Trust - ROCKDALE COUNTY — This Georgia suburb, about 23 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta, has been buffeted by the broader economic troubles the U.S. has experienced since 2000. Rockdale County businesses produce disposable cups and pizza boxes, walk-in coolers and pre-fabricated gas stations. But since the turn of the century, the number of manufacturing jobs in the county has declined by 27 percent, according to the latest County Business Patterns report produced by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Chris Hedges Interviews Noam Chomsky (2/3)

The idea still should be that of the Knights of Labor: those who work in the mills should own them. And there's plenty of manufacturing going on in the country, and probably there will be more, for unpleasant reasons. One thing that's happening right now which is quite interesting is that energy prices are going down in the United States because of the massive exploitation of fossil fuels, which is going to destroy our grandchildren, but under the, you know, capitalist morality, the calculus is that profits tomorrow outweigh the existence of your grandchildren. It's institutionally-based, so, yes, we're getting lower energy prices. And if you look at the business press, they're, you know, very enthusiastic about the fact that we can undercut manufacturing in Europe because we'll have lower energy prices, and therefore manufacturing will come back here, and we can even undermine European efforts at developing sustainable energy because we'll have this advantage. Britain is saying the same thing. I was just in England recently. As I left the airport, I read The Daily Telegraph, you know, I mean, newspaper. Big headline: England is going to begin fracking all of the country, even fracking under people's homes without their permission. And that'll allow us to destroy the environment even more quickly and will bring manufacturing back here.
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