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Manufacturing sector lost 575,000 during the Obama administration

President Barack Obama speaks to Ford employees and guests at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant in Hegewisch in 2010. The nation lost 575,000 factory jobs during the Obama administration.

President Barack Obama set out to create 1 million manufacturing jobs, but the country ended up losing 575,000 factory jobs during his eight-year tenure, as the sector around which Northwest Indiana was built continued to erode.

In the previous administration of George W. Bush, manufacturing lost 4.3 million jobs and more than 30 steelmakers went bankrupt, some of which had been around for more than a century.

"As Barack Obama’s presidency comes to a close, there is no doubt that his efforts shone a light on manufacturing and its value to the nation," said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a partnership between the USW and leading companies. "I still vividly recall his 2012 State of the Union address, which put manufacturing front and center."

The manufacturing sector has added 822,000 new jobs since the end of the Great Recession, and 315,000 jobs since Obama announced in 2012 that he intended to create a million new factory jobs. But that couldn't make up for the losses in the depths of the recession, when he took office.

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Paul said those numbers show manufacturing job growth is possible with the right policies. He credited the Obama administration for establishing the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, investing in infrastructure, and enforcing trade laws, such as by slapping tariffs on illegally dumped steel.

The Obama administration laid a strong foundation for the future by creating a network of innovation and industrial apprenticeships, but more opportunities need be be created, Paul added.

President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to invest $1 trillion on infrastructure, call China to account on alleged currency manipulation, and impose 45 percent tariffs on goods shipped into America by companies that outsource jobs.

“President-elect Donald Trump has promised to make manufacturing job creation a priority and he can do so through infrastructure investment that includes strong Buy America provisions, strict enforcement of U.S. trade laws, and tax reform that puts American jobs first," Paul said.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.