Trump Visits Toledo: The Data on Ohio’s Ongoing Trade Job Loss

Ohio Manufacturing Sector Employment Is Down Since Trump Took Office

Reporters Memo

With final passage of the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) expected with a U.S. Senate vote soon, President Donald Trump is likely to talk trade during his visit to Toledo Thursday night. Below are key data points on the impacts on Ohio of NAFTA and other trade policies.

During the Trump administration, the NAFTA trade deficit has grown 30% relative to the year before Trump took office, with tens of thousands more U.S. jobs government-certified as lost to NAFTA. “Overall, Ohio manufacturing sector employment is down since Trump took office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) County Employment and Wages database while the BLS State and Area Employment, Hours and Earnings database shows overall gains but a falloff in 2019.”

The NAFTA 2.0 Trump signed in 2018 betrayed his promise to working people to fix NAFTA. It included new Big Pharma giveaways that locked in high drug prices, making it worse than the original, and its labor and environment terms were too weak to counteract NAFTA’s outsourcing of jobs and pollution. Even after congressional Democrats, unions and consumer groups forced renegotiation of Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 to remove Big Pharma giveaways and improve labor and environmental terms, making the final revised deal better than the original NAFTA, the new NAFTA still includes problematic terms and won’t bring back hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, as Trump claims. The recent announcements by U.S. automakers of increased production in Mexico make that clear.

  • According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Ohio has had a net loss of 298,591 manufacturing jobs – almost one in three – since the 1994 NAFTA and 1995 World Trade Organization (WTO) went into effect.
  • Nationwide, the U.S. has had a net loss of 4.5 million manufacturing jobs – about 27% – since NAFTA and the WTO went into effect. 
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), manufacturing workers who lose jobs and find reemployment are typically forced to take pay cuts. Two of every five workers rehired in 2018 were paid less in their new jobs. One in six lost greater than 20% of their income. That means a $8,955 pay cut for the median-wage worker earning $44,800. 
  • The government has certified 161,161 Ohio workers as trade job-loss victims under just one narrow program called Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). This government program represents a significant undercount: Workers must know to apply and meet TAA’s narrow criteria, which exclude many types of jobs lost to trade. The top five firms that TAA certified for China job loss in Ohio are Masco Corporation, Chrysler, Honeywell International Inc., AK Steel and Johnson Brothers Rubber Company. The top five firms certified for NAFTA job loss in Ohio are Delphi Corporation, General Motors Co., Marconi Communications, Masco Corporation and L.G. Philips.
  • Ohio metro areas with the highest number of DOL-certified trade jobs loss:

Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (23,380)           Youngstown-Warren-Boardman (20,974)

Dayton (15,390)                                        Cincinnati-Middletown (14,956)

Columbus (10,764)                                   Toledo (6,148)

  • During NAFTA’s 25 years in force, the U.S. goods trade deficit with Canada of $33.2 billion and the $2.9 billion surplus with Mexico in 1993 (the year before NAFTA) turned into a combined NAFTA goods trade deficit of $220 billion in 2018. Before NAFTA, the U.S. had a goods trade surplus with Mexico and Canada in the top 10 products that Ohio exports to the NAFTA nations. We now have a massive $126 billion deficit in trade of those goods to NAFTA nations.
  • The $2.5 billion U.S. agriculture trade surplus with Canada and Mexico before NAFTA reversed to a $9 billion deficit in 2018. Nearly 250,000 small- to medium-scale farmers have been driven out of agriculture since the original NAFTA went into effect. None of Ohio’s top-five exports is in agriculture. Nationwide, $15 billion has been lost in U.S. agriculture exports just to China in the past year. Trump’s new NAFTA cannot fix this or stop future erratic and unpredictable Trump trade actions. Months after the deal was signed, and boosters claimed it would lock in a new era of certainty in North American trade, Trump threatened to impose new tariffs on all Mexican imports for immigration-related reasons. Because the new NAFTA would simply continue NAFTA’s existing duty-free treatment with very modest increased access for U.S. dairy, poultry, eggs and wine to the Canadian market (around $400 million), it wouldn’t make a dent.
  • Growing NAFTA trade deficit under Trump: The nearly 10% growth in the NAFTA goods deficit over the past 11-month period compared to that same period in 2018 continues a Trump-era trend: The 2018 annual U.S. NAFTA goods deficit was up 11% relative to 2017, an increase from $197 billion to $218 billion, and up 19% ($34 billion) in 2018 relative to the U.S. annual NAFTA goods deficit in 2016.

Deficit figures are adjusted for inflation to the base month of November 2019. Thus, the figures represent changes in trade balances expressed in constant dollars. So, for months prior to November 2019, the numbers are different than the data unadjusted for inflation that is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

 Note on TAA: The U.S. Department of Labor certifies trade-impacted workplaces under its TAA program. This program provides a list of trade-related job losses and job retraining and extended unemployment benefits to workers who lose jobs to trade. TAA is a narrow program, covering only a subset of workers who lose jobs to trade. It does not provide a comprehensive list of facilities or jobs that have been offshored or lost to import competition. Although the TAA data represent a significant undercount of trade-related job losses, TAA is the only government program that provides information about job losses officially certified by the U.S. government to be trade-related. Public Citizen provides an easily searchable version of the TAA database. Please review our guide on how to interpret the data here and the technical documentation here.

 For more information visit State-by-State Outcomes of NAFTA.