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What’s it like working in manufacturing in the Deep South?

Manufacturing is big business in the South. Lured by generous tax incentives, global companies like Mercedes, Boeing, Nissan and more have set up shop in Alabama and Mississippi. But what is the quality of the jobs these major companies are creating with residents’ tax dollars?

Alabama and Mississippi Manufacturing Workers Share Their Experiences

With data from over 1,300 manufacturing workers in Alabama and Mississippi, a report from Alabama A&M University—with support from Jobs to Move America—sheds new light on the reality of these jobs. The report found that across the board, job quality at these facilities is low and work-life balance is virtually nonexistent.

Other key takeaways include:

  • Average reported pay is substantially less than in unionized facilities although better than the $7.25 per hour minimum wage for the region. However, significant racial wage gaps are reported, and averages still do not meet what is considered needed to support a family.
  • Although most jobs are permanent positions, very few respondents reported opportunities for upward career mobility.
  • Work-life balance is virtually nonexistent for many respondents who put in long shifts with highly variable and difficulty to predict schedules.
  • High rates of serious injury and reports of racially hostile and sexually harassing work environments are reported.
  • Fear of retaliation from employers prevents workers from using their voice and speaking up to improve practices or report workplace issues.
  • Many workers express pride in their work but this pride is tempered by stories of unfair or mistreatment by their employers.

See the report below:

Watch the panel event held at Jackson State University, Southern Manufacturing’s Impact on Jobs and Community, that discussed the report:

Associated Press Posts