Amid Trade Uncertainty, PA Sheds Manufacturing Jobs


HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania have been steadily declining since January, as employers have grappled with uncertainty over President Donald Trump’s ongoing trade dispute with China.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest jobs report shows the pattern is continuing unabated.

In this image released on Feb. 20, 2019, a factory worker helps pack new PEEPS® Solid Milk Chocolate Bunnies, in Philadelphia. (Corey Perrine/AP Images for Just Born Quality Confections)

In January, the commonwealth employed 569,800 people in the manufacturing sector. Preliminary figures for July—the most recent month available—show that number has shrunk to by 8,400.

Reactions have been mixed.

David Taylor, who heads Pennsylvania’s Manufacturer’s Association, said he supports the president’s tactics—even if jobs are reduced during the tariff war with China.

“We’re in a tumultuous period, there’s no question about that,” he acknowledged.

But Rick Bloomingdale, who heads Pennsylvania’s chapter of the AFL-CIO, said he’s worried there’s no end in sight to the instability.

“What’s the end game? Tariffs are a tool, not a policy,” he said. “There’s no long-term benefit to someone losing their job.”

It’s unclear if the trend means an impending manufacturing recession, but some economists have said one is possible.

Bloomingdale and Taylor both said they think it’s too soon to make concrete predictions.

The downturn comes after a few years of nationwide growth in manufacturing. The Labor Statistics Bureau has noted, while the growth hasn’t stopped, it slowed down this year.