Recently, we shared an article that listed several “facts” that challenge many “fake facts” Americans believe about U.S. manufacturing. For example, because they believe some fake facts, many Americans don’t believe, or are not aware of these actual facts:

  • The U.S. is on its way to retaking the position as the world’s most competitive nation for manufacturing.
  • A corresponding growth in U.S. manufacturing productivity has led to an overall growth in U.S. manufacturing output. (Or stated another way: Despite a decline in manufacturing jobs, there has been a growth in manufacturing.

Now, a new analysis by Gallup research challenges another “fake fact”: A widely held belief that suggests people who live in regions that have lost manufacturing jobs experience lower “life evaluation” (a sense of well-being) than those who lose other types of jobs (1).

What a Gallup research team, led by Jonathan Rothwell, Gallup senior economist,  found was the opposite:

There is no loss in “life evaluation” when a region’s job base begins to move from the manufacturing sector to other sectors.

Using data from over 173,000 individual adults living in the United States who were interviewed by Gallup in 2016, individuals were asked to rate their lives on a 0 to 10 scale, where 10 is the best possible life and 0 is the worst. This scale of “life evaluation,” developed by Hadley Cantril many years ago (more on Cantril in footnote #1), is highly correlated with various dimensions of the quality of life, including physical and mental health.

Gallup’s research revealed that the loss of jobs in a region is always going to have a negative impact on the economy and life evaluation of people who work and live in the region. However, the level of such life evaluation is no more negative for the loss of manufacturing jobs than non-manufacturing jobs.

Indeed, the reality is the opposite: “The effect of manufacturing decline is somewhat less significant than a decline in non-manufacturing sectors,” according to Rothwell.

Some of the revelations of the Gallup data analysis:

  • There is no negative effect on the “living evaluation” of people who live in a region where the job base begins to move from the manufacturing sector to other sectors.
  • In reality, manufacturing and production workers generally evaluate their lives slightly lower than others.
  • The data does not support any hypothesis that a decline in manufacturing jobs in an area has an unusually negative effect on how individuals who live in that area evaluate their lives — any more so than a decline in jobs in general.

VIA | Does Loss of Manufacturing Jobs Lead to Lower Life Ratings?”

 (1) How Gallup measures “well-being”: Gallup’s Life Evaluation Well-Being Index is based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale developed by pioneering social researcher Dr. Hadley Cantril in the early 1960s. For summary purposes, Gallup uses three different groups to describe the categories of “well-being” displayed.

  1. Thriving: Strong, consistent, and progressing well-being.These respondents report significantly fewer health problems, fewer sick days, less worry, stress, sadness, anger, and more happiness, enjoyment, interest, and respect.

  2. Struggling: Moderate or inconsistent well-being.These respondents are either struggling in the present or expect to struggle in the future. They report more daily stress and worry about money than the “thriving” respondents, and more than double the amount of sick days. They are more likely to smoke and are less likely to eat healthily.

  3. Suffering: These respondents have poor ratings of their current life situation and negative views of the next five years.They are more likely to report lacking the basics of food and shelter, more likely to have physical pain, a lot of stress, worry, sadness, and anger. They have less access to health insurance and care, and more than double the disease burden, in comparison to “thriving” respondents.