Did Manufacturing Job Losses Hold the Midwest Back?
May 14, 2012
There is a strain of thought among some policy experts that manufacturing, especially in the Midwest, is a dead-end for regional economic development. In a series of recent Brookings reports, my co-authors and I have challenged that view. The conventional wisdom won’t die easily, though.
It is not surprising that the focus of the fighting around public employee benefits and collective bargaining is in the industrial Midwest. As noted in the Brookings report The Vital Center: “Today’s employee benefit, job, and income security systems, like so many of the nation’s economic and social practices, were forged in the Midwest." These states have the most to gain economically by modernizing the social compact between the worker, the state, and employer (particularly where the latter two are one and the same).