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Lew’s Dubious Claims About Manufacturing Growth

- July 31, 2013

On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Said “We’re Seeing Growth In Manufacturing Jobs, More New Manufacturing Jobs Than In Most Recent Periods.”  LEW:  “Look David, I think that if you look at where we started out, we were in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  We are-- the American economy is fighting back and it’s coming back.  The job creation has actually been a little bit more impressive than what you described.  We’re seeing growth in manufacturing jobs, more new manufacturing jobs than in most recent periods.  Clearly there’s more work to do.  You know, I think that the-- the challenges ahead are how can we put the pieces in place so that we have the infrastructure in place for American factories to ship their goods.  How do we make sure we have the workforce that’s trained with the skills for the modern workplace?” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 7/28/13)

  • Obama Made A Similar Boast In Yesterday’s Remarks On The Middle Class. “Number one -- jobs in American manufacturing.  (Applause.)  Over the past four years, for the first time since the 1990s, the number of manufacturing jobs in America hasn’t gone down, it’s actually gone up.  (Applause.)  So the trend lines are good; now we’ve got to build on that progress.  I want to offer new incentives for manufacturers not to ship jobs overseas, but to bring them back here to America.  (Applause.)  I want new tax credits so communities hit hardest by plant closures can attract new investment.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks On Jobs For The Middle Class, Chattanooga, TN, 7/30/13)

FactCheck.Org: Lew Is “Cherry-Picking Jobs Data And Reviving An Old Talking Point From The 2012 Campaign.” “It depends on the definition of ‘most recent periods,’ but the fact is that manufacturing jobs were down in June for the fourth consecutive month, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. The U.S. had 11,988,000 manufacturing jobs in February. But after declines in March, April, May and June, there are now 11,964,000 such jobs — a loss of 24,000 manufacturing jobs in four months. So the U.S. is not “seeing growth in manufacturing jobs” right now, even though overall the U.S. economy has added 731,000 jobs during that same four-month period. What’s Lew talking about? He’s cherry-picking jobs data and reviving an old talking point from the 2012 campaign, when there was a bit of a boomlet in manufacturing jobs.” (“Lew Distorts Facts On Jobs, Debt Ceiling,” FactCheck.org, 7/30/13)

FactCheck.Org: Lew’s Claim Of Manufacturing Growth Is “Not Only Incomplete But Wrong.” “Vice President Joe Biden, for example, said at a campaign rally in March 2012 that the U.S. had created ‘430,000 new manufacturing jobs just since 2010.’ As we wrote at the time, that statement was accurate — but incomplete. It ignored the massive loss of manufacturing jobs during Obama’s first year in office. Overall, the U.S. has lost 592,000 manufacturing jobs from January 2009, when Obama took office, through June 2013, BLS data show. Lew, like Biden, is referring to job growth since 2010. But at least Biden was speaking at a time when the economy was adding manufacturing jobs. That is no longer the case, making Lew’s boast of ‘seeing growth in manufacturing jobs’ not only incomplete but wrong.” (“Lew Distorts Facts On Jobs, Debt Ceiling,” FactCheck.org, 7/30/13)

Meanwhile, GDP Continues To Grow At A “Terrible” Pace

GDP Growth For The Second Quarter Of 2013 Was 1.7 Percent. “Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013(that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to the ‘advance’ estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.” (“National Income And Product Accounts: Gross Domestic Product, Second Quarter 2013 (Advance Estimate),” U.S. Department Of Commerce, 7/31/13)

The Washington Post’s Neil Irwin: 1.7 Percent GDP Growth Is “Terrible.” “But 1.7 percent growth isn’t good in the environment we’re in, even if it is a little better than economists thought the number would be. It isn’t even mediocre. It’s terrible. It’s a sign of the diminished economic expectations that economy-watchers have set for themselves that it’s anything to crow about at all.” (Neil Irwin, “The Washington Post’s WonkBlog, 7/31/13)


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