Boost in Factory Jobs Under Trump Favors Sunny Frontiers Over Ailing Hubs
The list of counties that added the most manufacturing jobs in 2017 and 2018 highlights that divide. It is led by Harris County, Tex., which includes Houston and factories that supply the oil and gas industry. It also includes Alameda County, Calif., in the Bay Area, and Storey County, Nev., east of Reno, which are home to Tesla plants that added jobs after Mr. Trump took office.
Only two of the top 10 counties are in the industrial Midwest: Macomb County, Mich., near Detroit, and Peoria County in western Illinois.
The 10 counties that created the most jobs in 2017 and 2018:
Harris County, Tex. 11,592 jobs
Storey County, Nev. 10,197
Santa Clara County, Calif. 9,909
Alameda County, Calif. 9,855
Maricopa County, Ariz. 9,674
Peoria County, Ill. 8,429
Tulsa County, Okla. 8,381
Tarrant County, Tex. 6,327
Orange County, Calif. 6,242
Macomb County, Mich. 5,991
Source: Economic Innovation Group and Labor Department
Nearly half the job gains were in the most prosperous quintile of counties in America, according to the Economic Innovation Group, even though those counties accounted for just 40 percent of the nation’s factory jobs before Mr. Trump took office. And in an indication that many of the gains may be part of long-running economic trends, two-thirds of the new positions were in counties that added jobs from 2010 through 2016.
Still, there are some signs of hope for the counties that the group rates as the most economically distressed quintile. Collectively, they lost factory jobs throughout the Obama administration, but they added more than 20,000 during Mr. Trump’s first two years, with the biggest gains in the Southeast, including Tennessee, the Carolinas, Arkansas and Georgia.
“The manufacturing sector is steadily realigning after the shocks of the early part of this century,” said John Lettieri, the president of the Economic Innovation Group, which came up with the idea for the opportunity zone program. “The West is emerging as a new growth engine for the sector, and manufacturing’s rebound is finally reaching many distressed areas of the country.”
He added, “These gains are real but still fragile.”
The fragility is a result of a global manufacturing slowdown, which many analysts link to Mr. Trump’s tariffs on imports from China — among other products — and the escalation of trade tensions with countries around the world.