Commentary

China Loses More Manufacturing Jobs Than US

As background for Reason Foundation’s China Mobility Project, I was reading Daniel Ikenson’s excellent briefing paper on trade and the U.S. economy Manufacturing Discord: Growing Tensions Threaten the U.S.-China Economic Relationships. This is one of several notable and highly relevant passages:

“Regardless of manufacturing’s operating performance, the metric that matters most politically is the number of jobs in the sector. That figure reached a zenith of 19.4 million jobs in 1979 and has been trending downward along roughly the same trajectory ever since. China’s entry into the WTO and the subsequent increase in bilateral trade did nothing to accelerate the decline. Manufacturing job loss has very little to do with trade and a lot to do with changes in technology that lead to productivity gains and changes in consumer tastes. China has also experienced a decline in manufacturing jobs—in fact, many more jobs have been lost in Chinese manufacturing—for the same reasons. According to a 2004 study published by the Conference Board, China lost 15 million manufacturing jobs between 1995 and 2002, a period during which 2 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost.”

Ikenson notes that the value of U.S. manufacturing output has been surprisingly stable despite concerns about outsourcing to developing countries such as China. What we fail to realize is the dynamism of the economies of developing countries and the pressures that globalization puts on every industry to remain competitive. The idea that manufacturing deceline in the U.S. is a straight-line extrapolation from outsourcing to less developing countries is much too simplistic and a poor basis for public policy.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.

Staley is the author of several books, most recently co-authoring Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008). Texas Gov. Rick Perry aid Staley and Moore "get it right" and world bank urban planner Alain Bartaud called it "a must read for urban managers of large cities in the United States and around the world."

He is also co-author, with Ted Balaker, of The Road More Traveled: Why The Congestion Crisis Matters More Than You Think, and What We Can Do About It (Rowman and Littlefield, September, 2006). Author Joel Kotkin said, "The Road More Traveled should be required reading not only for planners and their students, but anyone who loves cities and wants them to thrive as real places, not merely as museums, in the 21st Century." Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters said, "Balaker and Staley clearly debunk the myth that there is nothing we can do about congestion."

Staley's previous book, Smarter Growth: Market-based Strategies for Land-use Planning in the 21st Century (Greenwood Press, 2001), was called the "most thorough challenge yet to regional land-use plans" by Planning magazine.

In addition to these books, he is the author of Drug Policy and the Decline of American Cities (Transaction Publishers, 1992) and Planning Rules and Urban Economic Performance: The Case of Hong Kong (Chinese University Press, 1994).

His more than 100 professional articles, studies, and reports have appeared in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Investor's Business Daily, Journal of the American Planning Association, Planning magazine, Reason magazine, National Review and many others.

Staley's approach to urban development, transportation and public policy blends more than 20 years of experience as an economic development consultant, academic researcher, urban policy analyst, and community leader.

Staley is a former chair for his local planning board in his hometown of Bellbrook, Ohio. He is also a former member of its Board of Zoning Appeals and Property Review Commission, vice chair of his local park district's open space master plan committee, and chair of its Charter Review Commission.

Staley received his B.A. in Economics and Public Policy from Colby College, M.S. in Social and Applied Economics from Wright State University, and Ph.D. in Public Administration, with concentrations in urban planning and public finance from Ohio State University.