By Ross Lenihan

Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight writes that although high-paying, career manufacturing jobs are not likely to return anytime soon, Americans should focus less on the type of work involved and more on the means used to secure good income and benefits. Do that, he writes, and the #1 word you come up with is UNIONS.

As Casselman writes, “The average manufacturing production worker in Michigan earns $20.80 an hour, vs. $18.86 in South Carolina, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why do factory workers make more in Michigan? In a word: unions.” He adds that, “Unions also help explain why the middle class is healthier in the Midwest than in the Southeast, where manufacturing jobs have been growing rapidly in recent decades… in some Southern cities, even those with large manufacturing bases, middle-income households are now in the minority.”

The American people increasingly recognize the value of workplace solidarity, especially in light of the Great Recession. According to an August 2015 Gallup poll, “Americans' approval of labor unions has jumped five percentage points to 58% [since 2014], and is now at its highest point since 2008…”

Keep this in mind the next time you have a discussion with friends, family, or coworkers about the state of the American economy. Good jobs are often less about the type of work involved and more about the bonds of solidarity in the workplace.

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