INSTITUTE INDEX: The high public cost of low-wage manufacturing jobs

Manufacturing jobs have been promoted as a way to build a stronger economy, but a new report documents how many manufacturing workers' families must rely on public safety-net programs to make ends meet. (Photo by recycleharmony via Flickr.)

Though U.S. manufacturing jobs once paid significantly more than the national average, percent less than the median wage the average manufacturing production worker made by 2013: 7.7

During the same period, rate by which productivity in the U.S. manufacturing sector exceeded that of the private, non-farm economy overall: 1/3

Median wage for manufacturing production workers in 2013: $15.66

For those directly hired by the manufacturer: $16.56

For those hired through staffing agencies: $12.05

Percent of manufacturing production workers who earned less than $11.91 in 2013: 25

Amount the federal and state governments spent annually on public safety-net programs for manufacturing production workers and their families between 2009 and 2013: $10.2 billion

Percent of families of manufacturing production workers enrolled in at least one of the five major public safety-net programs*: 34

Percent of families of manufacturing production workers employed though staffing agencies who rely on at least one public safety-net program — a rate similar to that for fast-food workers: 50

Of the 10 states where manufacturing production workers' families have the highest participation rates in safety-net programs, number that are in the South: 8**

Percent of Mississippi manufacturing production workers' families who participate in at least one public safety-net program: 59

Percent in Georgia, which comes in second place behind Mississippi: 47

Percent in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina respectively: 42, 41, 40, 39, 39, 39

Difference in the average manufacturing production worker's wage in Michigan vs. South Carolina: $1.94

In 2015, percent of production manufacturing workers in Michigan who were union members: 23

In South Carolina: less than 2

* Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps and basic household income assistance.

** Those 10 states, in descending order, are Mississippi, Georgia, California, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina. Florida came in 11th place.

(Click on figure to go to source. Most of the figures in this index are from "Producing Poverty: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Production Jobs in Manufacturing" by the UC Berkeley Labor Center.)