>> Factory jobs returning to the Rust Belt, even before Donald Trump takes office. But those jobs may not be a ticket to the middle class. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where President-elect Donald Trump hopes to spur a revival in factory work when he takes office next month. Vice President-elect Mike Pence, meeting with a manufacturer's trade group in Washington on Thursday, while Trump himself has been brow-beating employers to keep them from shipping jobs overseas.
On Friday, Trump heads to Grand Rapids, Michigan where he will find they're not short on factory jobs, they're just short on factory jobs that pay well.>> And it's about bringing back our jobs.>> Trump's inheriting an economy that's been adding jobs since 2009. Unemployment below 5%, and in manufacturing towns like Grand Rapids dipping below 3%.
Employers there telling me that they're having trouble finding workers to fill their shifts. There's one big problem though. Those jobs pay a lot less than they used to. The days when a high school dropout could earn $25 an hour are long gone. To earn that kind of money now, workers need to have some sort of specialized skill like welding or computer programming.
The folks who do the routine repetitive work earn closer to 15 bucks an hour, which is not enough to cover living expenses, even in a low-cost city like Grand Rapids. Trump campaigned hard on the idea that the United States is getting hammered by global trade. But there's another bigger culprit than Mexico or China, robots.
US factories have doubled their output since 1980, even as they've shed one-third of their workers, thanks to automation. Workers in these modern factories earn good money, but there are a lot fewer of these jobs. And you can't get in the door with just a high school degree. One Grand Rapids company we spoke with is paying for its workers to go to night school, but officials say there needs to be a lot more of that sort of training going on.
Otherwise, even if Trump can convince companies not to ship their work off to Mexico, like he did with Carrier, his dream of a newly prosperous factory belt will remain just that.