Sen. Merkley stumps for jobs bill in Eugene

Sen. Merkley stumps for jobs bill in Eugene »Play Video
Sen. Merkley speaks with Jeff Elliott, president of Johnson Crushers International in Eugene

EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley visited Johnson Crushers International in south Eugene on Friday stumping for legislation called “Manufacturing Jobs for America.”   

The initiative has 22 senators as co-sponsors but hasn’t hit the floor for a vote yet. Merkley hopes it can pass next year.
  
The initiative has goals of modernizing the US manufacturing sector, helping US manufacturing grow, creating jobs and opening up more international trade opportunities for American products.

Merkley said workers in manufacturing jobs earn 22 percent more in annual pay and benefits than the average worker in other industries.

Merkley added Oregon is in a unique position because of our dependence on manufacturing. 

Oregon is the state with the greatest share of its economy tied to manufacturing.

In 2011, 29 percent of Oregon’s gross state product (GSP) was from manufacturing.

The sector remains important despite the huge loss in manufacturing jobs in Lane County since the recession. 

Brian Rooney with the Employment Department said Lane lost well over 5,000 good-paying manufactruing jobs in recent years. Hynix closed its semi-conductor plant in Eugene in 2008, eliminating 1,100 jobs. The RV industry crumbled, and wood products jobs have eroded, too.

Rooney said wood products are making a mild comeback, but Lane County has a long way to go to get back to pre-recession manufacturing job levels.