Workers of Color Hit Hardest by Factory Job Loss, But the U.S. Has a Historic Chance to Create New Opportunity

Washington, D.C. – Workers of color have been disproportionately impacted by the loss of 5 million factory jobs over the past 25 years, according to new research from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

However, the report also outlines how smart policy — including strategic investments in infrastructure and clean energy, along with rebalanced trade — could create up to 7 million new jobs, helping to strengthen critical production and provide new opportunities, especially for workers without a college degree. 

“The research in this new report confirms that years of offshoring hurt all manufacturing workers, but especially workers of color. They were more likely to face factory job losses and shift into lower-paying jobs, like those in the service sector,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. “But it doesn’t have to be like this. By making smart, strategic investments in critical manufacturing to compete with countries like China, along with rebuilding infrastructure and working to rebalance trade overall, the United States can create millions of new, good-paying jobs for all Americans.” 

Manufacturing continues to provide higher wages for workers compared to other industries.

According to the EPI research, Black workers in manufacturing earn $5,000 more per year (17.9% more) than in nonmanufacturing industries; Hispanic workers earn $4,800 more per year (+17.8%); Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers earn $4,000 more per year (+14.3%); and white workers earn $10,100 more per year (+29.0%). 

“The loss of 5 million manufacturing jobs over the past 25 years wasn’t inevitable. It was a policy choice, and it devastated our country’s working class, especially in communities of color,” Paul said. “Now it’s time to re-center workers in our policies. As the United States undertakes efforts like the transition to clean energy, it will be essential to ensure that workers also see the benefits. Our country is at an inflection point, and we need to make sure all workers benefit from these historic opportunities.”    

Click here to read the full Economic Policy Institute report.