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Who Does Free Trade Screw Over the Most?


I know that the media loves finding white people in Youngstown and Canton to talk to about their personal lord and savior Donald Trump and repeat the economic anxiety arguments that elite pundits love to blab on about without any real evidence that they are true.

Now, trade agreements, deindustrialization, and indifference to the fate of unemployed workers from both Democrats and Republicans has absolutely led to political and cultural alienation, long-term poverty, and income inequality we haven’t seen for a century. But the real story here is not the white workers: it’s the non-white workers who, like with everything else in American life, have been disproportionately affected by all of this.

Black and Latino workers were more likely than Whites to lose manufacturing jobs as a result of U.S. trade policiesover the past 25 years, according to new research.

Although President Trump deliberately courted the White working class with his failedBuy American, Hire American” campaign, Black and Latino workers suffered disproportionate economic harm by corporate offshoring following the enactmentof the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization agreement during the Clinton administration — trends that continued during Trump’s presidency as more manufacturing jobs disappeared, researchers found.

Researchers analyzed and matched government data on trade job loss with demographic data in a rare look at how purportedly race-neutral trade policies and agreements impact American workers of different races and ethnicities.

Not only were Black and Latino factory workers more likely to lose their jobs, they were also less likely to find new employment, said the report by Public Citizen, a nonprofit corporate and government watchdog. When they did manage to secure work, they faced larger pay cuts than White workers with similar educational backgrounds.

“The conventional wisdom created by Trump was a narrative of White working-class voters being the only injured party hurt by trade,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch who co-wrote the report with research director Daniel Rangel. “In fact, working-class people of all races and ethnicities got slammed by our trade policies, but the data show it’s Black and Latino workers who have suffered the heaviest damage.”

Since 1993, the government provided 3.2 million workers with extended unemployment and retraining benefits under its Trade Adjustment Assistance program after certifying their jobs were lost to trade. But government data show millions more manufacturing jobs have been lost: More than 60,000 U.S. factories have closed during this time, and net manufacturing employment has dropped by 4.5 million — accounting for nearly 1 out of every 4 manufacturing jobs.

Black and Latino workers are overrepresented in the manufacturing sectors hit hardest by trade, including offshoring and imports, such as auto and steel, furniture, textiles and garments, and electrical appliances as well as customer service call centers, the report found. Wages in the manufacturing sectors have also stagnated in the past 25 years.

But to talk about these issues in this way, not only in the mainstream media but in the class first left publications such as Jacobin, would about race, not class, and therefore not worth a discussion.

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