The manufacturing sector in Vermont and throughout the United States has eroded significantly in recent years and must be rebuilt to expand the middle class, Sen. Bernie Sanders said.
"During the Bush years, Vermont lost more than 14,000 manufacturing jobs, about one-third of all manufacturing jobs in the state. These were jobs that paid people a living wage often with health care and other benefits," Sanders said Tuesday.
When Congress reconvenes, Sanders plans to introduce legislation that would prevent American companies that are outsourcing jobs oversees from receiving corporate welfare such as government grants and low-interest loans.
Not only is unfettered, free trade leading to the destruction of traditional manufacturing and blue collar jobs, it is also leading to the loss of hundreds of thousands of high-tech, information technology jobs, as well. During the Bush administration, the U.S. lost over 820,000 jobs in the information sector. "These are the jobs, we have been told for years, that our children would be inheriting," Sanders said.
As a member of Congress, Sanders led the opposition to NAFTA and voted against permanent normal trade relations with China. In the years since the battles in Congress, national polls indicate that the majority of Americans feel that free trade has hurt the U.S. Read more in the Wall Street Journal.
As the Bernie Buzz reported last month, the occupations projected to have the most growth in Vermont during the next eight years earn relatively low wages. Most manufacturing jobs in Vermont are not considered growth sectors. Machine tool operators, for example, are expected to see jobs contract over the next eight years, according to state data.
The most annual openings in Vermont through 2018 will be for cashiers, home care aides and retail sales, according to Labor Department projections. The problem: the median income for those three fields is $18,730, $21,130 and $22,840, respectively.
"The situation today is ominous," Sanders said, referring to the continued slide of manufacturing and the erosion of the middle class.
To reverse the trend, he is pushing for fair trade, not unfettered free trade that creates an incentive for American companies to shutter U.S. manufacturing facilities and move jobs overseas.
To read more about Bernie's plan to rebuild the middle class, click here.