Manufacturing Jobs Growth Differs Sharply Across Post-World War II Presidential Administrations

More manufacturing jobs created in Democratic administrations, especially in older industrial states

Oct 16, 2012, 11:32 ET from Keystone Research Center

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Manufacturing job growth has varied across presidential administrations since 1948, according to an analysis by the Keystone Research Center (KRC) and Iowa Policy Project (IPP). Democratic administrations added an average of 160,000 to 250,000 manufacturing jobs each year, while Republican ones lost manufacturing jobs at about the same rate.

Some of the discrepancy may be due to the timing of economic downturns when Republican presidents were in office, but policy differences likely played a role as well, the authors said.

"How much luck or policy differences explain these results is open to debate and further research," said KRC Executive Director and economist, Dr. Stephen Herzenberg. "But as we've been reminded by the auto industry rescue of 2009, policy choices matter when it comes to building a stronger manufacturing sector."  

"These are big differences," said Dr. Colin Gordon, a senior research consultant at IPP. "If the manufacturing jobs score under Republicans had matched that under Democrats, the U.S. manufacturing jobs share today would be similar to Germany's."

Estimates of the manufacturing jobs score were robust across three alternate definitions of the period for which each president is held accountable:

  • Across nine Republican terms, U.S. manufacturing jobs fell 7.3 million to 9 million, depending on method.
  • Across seven Democratic terms, manufacturing employment rose by 5.4 million to 7 million.
  • Turning to individual states:
    • In Michigan, about 750,000 jobs have been lost in Republican administrations and a third of this number gained in Democratic.
    • In Ohio, about 890,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Republican terms, versus gains of 430,000 in Democratic.
    • In Wisconsin, 135,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations, while 200,000 were gained in Democratic.
    • In North Carolina, 110,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Republican administrations and 185,000 gained in Democratic.
    • Florida experienced little manufacturing job change overall in Republican administrations but gained nearly 200,000 jobs under Democrats.
    • In Colorado, about 3,000 jobs were gained under Republican administrations, versus 83,000 to 90,000 jobs under Democratic.

View numbers for all states, a longer press release, online interactive graphics for all states, and the full report at

Keystone Research Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization in Harrisburg, Pa.

SOURCE Keystone Research Center