October 03, 2011

Manchin Votes to Keep Manufacturing Jobs in West Virginia

Manchin-sponsored bill would punish China for currency manipulation, make sure that America remains competitive

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted tonight in favor of legislation he cosponsored that would penalize China for manipulating their currency, a practice that experts believe has cost America hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of good-paying jobs in manufacturing. 

“West Virginia is truly home to some of the hardest working people in the world, and we can compete against anyone – as long as the playing field is fair,” Senator Manchin said. “But China’s unfair practices have crippled our manufacturing sector and left a lot of good people without work. I – for one – will work hard to stop China from manipulating its currency so that Americans can keep their jobs.”

The legislation would allow the United States to impose tariffs on imports that benefit from foreign government subsidies.

The Chinese government has a demonstrated track record of manipulating their country’s currency, keeping the value of the yuan artificially low in order to reduce the price of their exports. This practice gives China an unfair trade advantage over foreign competitors. As a result, America’s goods have become comparatively more expensive, leading to job losses, especially in the manufacturing sector. 

Senator Manchin already cosponsored similar legislation earlier this year to clarify that the United States can charge import taxes on goods that come from countries known to illegally undervalue their currency.

Background on Manufacturing in West Virginia: 

  • According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, 8,200 jobs have been lost in West Virginia because of the growing trade gap with China. In 2001, the trade deficit was $83 billion, and it grew to a record $273 billion in 2010. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 2.8 million American jobs were lost or displaced during that decade because of the trade gap. 

  • According to the National Association of Manufacturers, a total of 49,100 jobs were related to manufacturing in West Virginia in 2010, which equals 6.6 percent of the state’s employment. In 2009, manufacturing constituted 9 percent of West Virginia’s economy. 

  • The average compensation for manufacturing positions in 2009 was $61,378, compared to $38,772 for the rest of the workforce.

Background on Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Act of 2011:

  • Senator Manchin voted in favor of cloture for S. 1619, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Act of 2011. The Senate agreed, 79-19, to proceed on the measure.