Why manufacturing matters in the New Hampshire Primary
As Mitt Romney narrowly eked out a victory in yesterday’s Iowa Caucus, the remaining GOP contenders are moving on to the second major milestone of the 2012 campaign season: the New Hampshire Primary.
As the first of the presidential primaries, the media-saturated New Hampshire Primary has long served as a “make it or break it” point for presidential candidates, and can provide enormous momentum for the victor. The primary often serves as a springboard for lesser-known candidates who perform better than expected, and is generally the last stop on the road for candidates who perform poorly.
As we near this year’s New Hampshire primary, it’s important to remember that the state of New Hampshire is significant for reasons other than its claim to the first presidential primary. Though once home to a booming industrial base, New Hampshire’s manufacturing sector has been hit particularly hard over the past decade.
In January 2001, there were 103,700 manufacturing jobs in New Hampshire. By the end of the Great Recession, that number had fallen to 65,100, a loss of 38,600 jobs. Through November 2011, the economy added 7,000 jobs, for a total of 65,800 manufacturing jobs in New Hampshire. At this rate, it will take over 11 years to regain all the jobs lost over the past decade.
New Hampshire has also suffered greatly from our growing trade deficit with China. According to a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute, New Hampshire lost a larger share of its employment to the U.S.-China trade deficit than any other state in the nation.
This staggering statistic formed the basis of a question posed by the Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty during the Bloomberg GOP debate to current Iowa Caucus front runner Mitt Romney. When asked if he would “get tough on China” or take the more cautious approach embraced by the current and past administrations, Romney assured her that he’d “call cheating for what it is” and identify China as a currency manipulator on “day one.”
Simply put, manufacturing is a big deal for New Hampshire, and we hope that the state’s voters have been paying attention to what the candidates have said (and haven’t said) about this crucial issue. Mitt Romney has been the most consistent voice in the GOP field for taking on China's currency cheating. He's been making the case for action ever since he rolled out his economic plan in September 2011. Runner-up Rick Santorum has often referenced his blue-collar roots, growing up in Pennsylvania coal country. Newt Gingrich has voiced his support for action against China, but has been less consistent than the other contenders. Ron Paul, in contrast, has said very little on the subject of manufacturing jobs.
The power to choose a candidate who cares about manufacturing--and to make it a central issue in the 2012 election--rests in the hands of Granite State voters. We hope they rise to the occasion.
Check out AAM's candidate tracker tool, Job Search to learn more about what the narrowing pool of GOP hopefuls are saying (and doing) about manufacturing and jobs.
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