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How does trade impact manufacturing employment in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire manufacturers and their employees face tough and sometimes unfair competition from Chinese and other foreign manufacturers.  But often they have a hard time getting a respectful hearing of their concerns from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

New Hampshire's industrial base is eroding.  Manufacturing News Inc. (MNI) reports that between October 2006 and October 2007, New Hampshire lost 1,529 manufacturing jobs or 2 percent of its base.  MNI calculates that 2,959 manufacturers operate in New Hampshire and employ 94,936 workers.  These numbers are declining.  MNI reports that New Hampshire lost 19 percent of its manufacturing jobs over that past five years.

Manufacturing job losses in New Hampshire were concentrated in the metal fabrication, electronics, apparel and textile industries, many of them located in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties.  For the 2006-2007 period, Hillsborough County, which includes the cities of Manchester and Nashua, lost 3.9 percent of its manufacturing jobs, while Rockingham County, in the densely populated southeast corner of the state, lost 3.4 percent of its factory jobs.

The loss of manufacturing jobs in New Hampshire is related to U.S. trade policy, especially with respect to China. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that from 2001 to 2006 New Hampshire suffered a net loss of 13,000 jobs (amounting to a 2.1 percent share of total state employment in 2001) due to growing trade deficits with China, alone.  As a share of total employment, New Hampshire's job losses resulting from the trade deficit with China were the highest in the U.S.A.  

New Hampshire workers could not compete because China directly subsidizes export industries, pegs its currency artificially low (an effective subsidy of 40 percent according to EPI), and denies basic labor rights to its industrial workers, resulting according to EPI in a 47 percent to 85 percent suppression of Chinese wage levels.

New Hampshire officials and the Governor of New Hampshire, in particular, share the concerns expressed manufacturers and industrial workers. The problem is that the current system for state/federal consultation on trade policy is inadequate

What are the options for improved federal consultation with states?

As noted above, advocacy by governors on behalf of home-state industries are heard in Washington could be far more effective if 2009 trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation or some similar act of Congress mandated more extensive state-federal consultation on trade policy issues than are currently provided under federal law. 

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