Factory jobs are returning, but they’re not the middle-class work force bedrock they used to be. Although American manufacturing is experiencing a modest rebound, the days when a factory job could support a family comfortably are over. A new report released Friday by the National Employment Law Project finds that hourly wages for manufacturing workers today have fallen below the national hourly wage median by almost 8 percent, and one in four makes less than $12 an hour. This doesn’t even take into account the lower wages earned by a growing army of temporary and contract workers who labor in these factories.
The problem is especially acute in auto manufacturing, NELP finds. Wages for auto-worker jobs plummeted by 14 percent over a decade, even as generous tax incentives and other perks have led more automakers to manufacture in the United States. Ultimately, it’s the American public that bears the cost of these grants, subsidies, worker-training funds, tax breaks and other inducements municipalities use to lure factories to their jurisdictions in a competitive market. “Taxpayers may find that they have essentially been asked to subsidize a large company whose promise of good jobs never materializes,” the report said.
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-- Martha C. White, NBC News contributor