No, they are low paying jobs because anyone can walk off the street, with little to no training or education, and can do the job. Those types of jobs will always be at the bottom of the pay scale (even if you make the pay scale higher, they are still at the bottom of it). Very similar to food service jobs, retail jobs, janitorial jobs, picking crops, etc. There aren't enough people that want to do those jobs in this country. That is one of the reason there are so many illegals working in those industries. The companies, quite simply, can't find enough legal people that want to do them.
There aren't nearly enough American workers to make those goods. Unemployment is like 4% right now. You can't just add millions of jobs and expect them to get filled as there aren't people to fill them, especially unskilled labor jobs that pay at the bottom of the pay scale. American companies don't just make products in El Salvador, China, Mexico, etc. because the labor is cheaper (it is and of course that is a reason), but also because it is just hard to get people to fill those jobs in the U.S.
Sometimes the simplest, most obvious answer is actually the right one. Not everything has to be as complicated as rocket appliances.
If I make widgets here in the US, and due to government regulations, it costs me $2.00 to make a widget, and you make widgets in a foreign country, and due to a lower standard of regulations you are able to make the same widget for $0.25, that creates an unfair 'playing field' which leaves me at a distinct disadvantage. I can't compete, Americans lose jobs, and I go out of business (or more likely am forced to outsource my labor).
Continuing to allow this imbalance is going to destroy this country. People need to wake up before it's too late. A nation that buys the majority of it's goods from foreign manufacturers is destined to fail, eventually. The idea behind international trade, since the beginning of time, was never supposed to be about who can 'make it the cheapest', it was supposed to be about nations trading commodities they have in surplus to other nations that lack said commodities, and in exchange trade commodities they have in surplus for commodities you lack.
If we really want to move to a completely open, fair, and free global marketplace, the only way for that to work is if all nations play by the same rules.
I agree re: simple explanations in principle, but we also know that labor costs are only one input. Would we demand $15/hr right now in China? American consumers would be crushed overnight.
On one hand, yes, fair is fair. But from an economic standpoint a level playing field is going to hurt the leaders the most... i.e us. If we want to be equal with China and Mexico for moral or environmental reasons, then by all means. Right now we have our cake and eat it to: we get to have regulations here that make people safer/ healthier/ wealthier, but get most things cheap from other countries. We can't just tip the scales the other way to create jobs, and expect to retain the advantages we had in the first place. They are linked.
The answer IMO, if the US wants to remain the wealthiest nation on earth, is not to compete for low wage jobs with poorer countries. Economically speaking, we should *let them do it* and focus entirely on domestic jobs that are higher value per capita. That's how a country stays rich.
What is the average minimum wage of auto workers in America? I'm guessing this played a direct role in that $16/hr figure.
TP, I think you're right on the $16 figure.
1. Yes, if the US immediately demanded all good made in China sold in the US had to be manufactured by workers making $15/hr there would be a lot of short term pain to US consumers. Long term it would actually be beneficial, as it would create a market for those goods to just be made here in America, but my guess is the short term pain would break too many people to make it realistic to do something like that without 'phasing it in'.
2. Being able to buy thing cheaply, when those cheap goods are made in foreign countries is not a good thing. It's actually a very bad thing. Think about how much money people spend every day on general use items (clothes, shoes, household products, tools, appliances, ect). The majority of the money that you, and I, and nearly everyone else spends every single day leaves the country and only a small portion of it ever comes back. America, as a whole, who be better served to keep that money here, not let it go elsewhere. The evidence is staring us right in the face and we look away, because we are fools who like cheap stuff, and don't have the foresight to see we're actually hurting ourselves.
3. That's not how a country stays rich, that's how a few people within a country stay rich, while everyone else goes poor. Low skill workers need good jobs too for a country to stay rich. Manufacturing has always been, and always will be, the backbone of an economy. Of course we should be focusing on high value jobs (high skill) jobs, and doing as much as we can to promote an environment that encourages people to get the education needed to be capable of performing the work of those high skill jobs. But there will always be low skilled workers, it's unavoidable. But you can certainly make it so that even they have a decent paying job too, by ensuring there is a job for them in the first place, and not undercutting them by allowing foreign labor to be exploited to your fellow countrymen's plight.
Well, I think we can all agree the 'real' unemployment number is higher than 4%. A lot of unemployed people don't get reported as such, and there's also a lot of people underemployed (part time workers and such).
But also, it's hard to fill those jobs because they do pay very low wages. But they only pay such low wages because it's the only way for American companies to compete with foreign labor. Eliminate the source of competing cheap of labor, and those jobs wouldn't be so low paying, and thus more desirable.
It can't be the only remedy, but it has to be part of the remedy. It's not sustainable to keep sending out all of our money to foreign countries in the name of cheap labor.
Your explanation only explains why many manufacturing jobs are at the lower end of the pay scale, but it does not explain why they are as low paying as they are. That is a simple fact we've sold ourselves out to foreign countries who have no problem exploiting their population, all so we can buy more cheap crap at Walmart.
This all gets back to the fact that for years our country has entered into trade agreements with foreign countries that have been one sided, and have been very bad for the majority of Americans.
I'd encourage everyone to boycott foreign manufacturing when there is an American made alternative. Support your neighbor, support small business, buy local, buy American. You can thank me later.
Of course it does, whether the pay is $5 an hour, $10 an hour, or $50 an hour if they are the lowest paying jobs (which they should be) they still won't be able to be staffed properly because there aren't enough workers to perform those jobs. Because if the entry level employee at McDonald's is making $15 an hour, the assistant manager is going to demand $20 an hour, the manager $25 an hour, etc. (or whatever). If it costs that much to pay the labor then the Big Mac meal is going to cost $10 or maybe more if the farm worker also then has to pay his work force more. Artificially raising the low paying wages won't correct the problem you are describing and it will probably make things far worse, as there really aren't millions and million of people available to make t-shirts, sneakers, knick knacks, etc. American companies realized this years ago i.e. that people just don't want those jobs, so they looked overseas where they could find a ready, willing, and able work force. It didn't hurt that that work force could also be paid much less then a similar work force in the states, but that is reality.
Now manufacturing jobs are more than unskilled, but they often aren't highly skilled or jobs that require much, if any, education so they do pay a bit more, but not so much more that it makes a real difference.