Higher manufacturing wages

In the Grauniad, from Mr. Chakrabortty:

\”There are plenty of reasons to boost industry. Not only would it make the economy less lopsided, but it would mean better, higher-paying manufacturing jobs.\”

Rilly? Manufacturing jobs pay better do they?

Looking at the ONS figures secretaries get 9.28 an hour, process and plant machinery peeps 9.30.

Skilled metal and electrical trades (ie, three years or so apprenticeship/experience) 11.92 and health and social welfare associate professionals (similarly, 3 ish years training) 15.01 per hour.

Where are these higher manufacturing wages that you speak of?

Can anyone explain to me where this idea that manucfaturing pays more comes from? Some historical memory or something?

10 comments on “Higher manufacturing wages

  1. Back when manufacturing workers were all militants, and their companies’ losses were covered by our taxes, this was undoubtedly true.

    Nowadays, we see manufacturing jobs compared to unskilled service sector jobs, to keep up the fantasy.

  2. Yes it’s basically a folk myth, come to light by comparing relatively well paid skilled manufacturing jobs that are no longer there (eg. aircraft fitter at De Havilland) with low paid service jobs that do currently exist (McDonalds in Hatfield high street). The notion is that those doing the latter would be doing the former if only the unions had more power / planets were better aligned. No actual argument, just pure delusion from cherry picking the extremes. There is probably a name for it.

  3. is it conditioned on education or something? i.e. if you did a wage regression with controls for education, age, parental income etc. manufacturing would have a positive coefficient?

    so your higher paid social welfare associate might even be getting paid less than their education would predict, whilst a manufacturing worker more.

  4. Luis may be onto something. Because manufacturing jobs are easily offshored, whereas service jobs are not, it’s likely that only more highly skilled and therefore more highly paid manufacturing jobs remain, whereas even low-skilled service jobs must be done by locals, because you can’t get a call centre in India to serve cappucinos to London commuters.

  5. Luis:
    “Is it conditioned on education or something?”

    I think what you’d find it “conditioned on” is
    “supply and demand.”

    Various occupations recognize the supply side as inimical to their income aspirations and attempt (often successfully but at cost to others “down the road”) to deal with such annoyance by one or another form of cartelization: unions hire goons to bust the heads of their would-be competitors (or some actually do a bit of the job themselves); many “higher” types eschew such crudity, preferring that government agencies do the head-busting in more civilized fashion through licensure, regulations, etc.

    In most (or all) of these efforts, the forces (the aforementioned supply and demand) cannot be successfully resisted over longer periods of time except at even higher total costs (thus actually constituting a net loss to society in a more holistic sense). The losses accruing from anti-economic activity of the sort are, very frequently, though, not borne by those causing them but by many others, frequently even by general taxpayers; the losses are, moreover, a frequent source of international hostilities (and even wars).

  6. “Can anyone explain to me where this idea that manucfaturing pays more comes from? Some historical memory or something?” –

    One phrase – Lanarkshire, then and now.

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