MUNCIE — A 2015 Ball State University study — "The Myth and Reality of Manufacturing in America" — that helped shape the presidential election is showing no signs of fading away.
It started a year ago with a Chicago Tribune editorial ("Don't fear global trade, no matter what scare-mongers like Trump, Sanders say") and a New York Times story published two days before Donald Trump defeated Ted Cruz in the Indiana Republican primary. It was cited most recently to fact check Trump's first speech to Congress.
"Almost 88 percent of job losses in manufacturing in recent years can be attributed to productivity growth," chiefly "automation and information technology advances," the study found.
The two-year-old study is still producing headlines today — for example, "Are robots or Mexicans to blame for U.S. job losses?" CBS News; "Trump's blame for US factory closings a 'stretch,' " China Daily; "Robot arms replaced 7.3 million factory hands since 1979," Daily Sabah — in addition to numerous similar headlines last year — such as, "How Trump's Business Logic Dissipates When It Comes to Mexico," Bloomberg, and "Don't blame China for taking U.S. jobs," Fortune.
In January, at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, it was reported, "Reality check: U.S. factory jobs lost are due overwhelmingly to increases in productivity and they're not coming back," while conservative columnist George Will, writing about the Ball State study's findings, asked: "Is this regrettable? China, too, is shedding manufacturing jobs because of productivity improvements."
The study has appeared in The Atlantic, Japan Times, Newsweek, National Review, Fox, NBC, all of the Mexican newspapers, Le Monde, CNN, MSNBC, in the daily newspapers of most American cities and many other news outlets and social media.