The Jobs That Weren’t Saved

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from TIME Magazine,

Deep bags sag under Brian Bousum’s eyes as he sips whiskey and water in a friend’s apartment on a recent Sunday evening. Fifty-one years old, he has spent the past two decades operating screw machines and setting up drill presses at the Rexnord ball-bearing plant on the west side of Indianapolis, a mile from the Carrier factory made famous by President Trump.

For a guy who didn’t go to college, he says, the work is hard to beat: the union offered job security and enough overtime to make up to $75,000 a year, a salary that enabled him to buy his own home with an in-ground pool. Bousum’s son joined him at the plant after graduating from high school.

By the end of the summer, however, they’ll both be out of a job. Rexnord, a $1.9 billion company based in Milwaukee, is closing the Indianapolis plant and moving its operations to Mexico. There, labor costs about $3 an hour, rather than the $25 Rexnord pays its longest-serving union employees in Indiana. The move will put more than 300 Americans out of work. Before that happens, some of the workers here are taking advantage of Rexnord’s offer of an extra $4 to $10 an hour to train their Mexican replacements. Others are too pained and too proud.

The outsourcing of America’s factory jobs is nothing new, of course. Since 1999, the nation’s manufacturing workforce has dropped 28%, from 17.3 million jobs to 12.4 million, as companies flee to countries with cheaper labor costs. Between 2001 and 2016, the U.S. had a net loss of nearly 54,000 manufacturing businesses. In those that remain, more and more work is being done by robots and advanced computers, which are usually overseen by engineers, programmers and others with at least four-year college degrees.

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