How cities are using billions in federal dollars to create good jobs

Over the past several months, manufacturing, tariffs, offshoring and reshoring have been at the forefront of national news coverage. This isn’t surprising.

Although manufacturing jobs have been on the decline since the late 1980s, manufacturing remains a crucial part of the American economy. In 2016, it accounted for 11.7 percent of GDP. On the other hand, American companies are having trouble filling many middle-skill jobs, which is expected to result in approximately 2 million manufacturing jobs going unfilled in the next decade 

 Photo by Armando Aparicio

This and other topics were discussed at a recent Senate briefing organized by the non-profit Jobs to Move America, with support from Senator Chuck Schumer’s office on Capitol Hill. The event brought Democratic and Republican policymakers, as well as community and labor groups together for a common goal: To learn more about how federal infrastructure dollars are creating good jobs for working Americans.

The panel discussion focused on how the $2 trillion that US and local governments spend each year on public goods can be used to create good jobs for American workers using an initiative called the U.S. Employment Plan.

From waitress to welder, and into the middle class

A few years ago, Amberrose Powers was working as a waitress and struggling to make ends meet. She then got a job as a painter, but that only paid $11 an hour. When Kinkisharyo International opened a new factory to build rail cars for the LA Metropolitan Transportation Authority, she got hired as a painter there at a much better wage. She then trained to become a welder at the same factory, making $20.64 per hour. She described her work in a field dominated by men as requiring “thick skin,” especially since she is one of only two women out of 40 welders. Despite the challenges, she loves her job at Kinkisharyo, which employs over 400 workers building the signature yellow light rail cars traveling across LA’s rapidly expanding transportation system.

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