Call it the China syndrome.
New York’s manufacturing base has been lost to the Asian superpower, with at least 183,500 good-paying factory jobs lost statewide since the turn of the century.
This mass exodus has the city’s manufacturing workforce reduced to its smallest size in history, according to the latest data.
Analysts are singling out the Communist nation’s escalating trade surplus and “unfair trade practices” for the 3.4 million mostly middle-class American jobs wiped out between 2001 and 2017, as calculated in a damning report last week.
“China’s cheating on trade has real consequences,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
And despite some slight pickup in manufacturing activity in New York state, and President Trump’s tough talk on tariffs — a tactic some say could backfire — there’s no sign of a resurgence in local manufacturing jobs even as state agencies attempt to fire on all cylinders.
Record low unemployment notwithstanding, sectors posting some of the biggest job gains in the city are not picking up the slack left by the loss of quality jobs, since many are for low-paying positions in the hospitality and services sectors, analysts say.
New York is ranked third in manufacturing job losses, behind California and Texas, according to the report by the Economic Policy Institute.
America’s trade deficit with China came to $375 billion last year. That wide imbalance occurred because US exports to China of $130 billion in 2017 were overshadowed by China’s $506 billion exports to the US, with $77 billion in computers and accessories and $70 billion in cell phones.
And like the overall economy, New York state has a trade deficit with China, according to Joseph Foudy, an economics professor at New York University. That gap is so wide you could back the proverbial truck through it. In 2016, total New York exports to China were $2.7 billion, while imports were about $20 billion, data show.
The latest data from 2016 show overall manufacturing employment dropped by 3,000, or 4 percent, in New York City, to 73,100, the lowest in history. The state has about 442,000 manufacturing jobs, but the job losses in the sector still mount.
“Some regions are devastated by layoffs and factory closings, while others are surviving but not growing the way they could be if new factories were opening and existing plants were hiring more workers,” according to the EPI report. “This slowdown in manufacturing job generation also is contributing to stagnating wages and incomes of typical workers and widening inequality.”