Trump heads to Scranton: A look at the Pennsylvania city’s blue-collar roots

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President Trump is headed to Pennsylvania on Thursday after his message to bring back blue-collar jobs helped him win the state unexpectedly in 2016.

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Trump will participate in a Fox News town hall event in Scranton, which the city’s chamber of commerce describes as having had a “key position in the rail and mining industries.”

Ahead of the 2016 election, Scranton was reeling from a loss of manufacturing jobs. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing employment had been cut by about half in the broader Scranton metropolitan area – falling to 27,000 in 2016, from 51,000 in 1990.

Times had changed substantially since 1900, when coal and iron revenue put the city near the top of all U.S. metros in terms of per-capita income, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.


And there's still a lot of work to do.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income between 2014 and 2018 was $39,066 – compared to $61,937 in the U.S. overall.

Nearly one-quarter of Scranton residents were considered to be living in poverty. Only about 21 percent of residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

As of December, the Scranton area had an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent – which is much higher than the national rate of 3.5 percent during the same month. Nearly 29,000 individuals worked in manufacturing, while 11,200 worked in mining, logging and construction. The former was the same number as the year prior, while the latter was a nearly 1 percent increase.


Last election cycle, Trump’s message to rip up or revise trade agreements, thereby bringing production – and jobs – back to the U.S. appeared to ring strong in the state, which shifted narrowly in Trump’s favor after it had gone blue in the past six presidential elections. It is expected to be a swing state once again in November.

The president is likely to address the same concerns once again – touting a strengthening economy that he has called a “Blue Collar Boom.” He has pointed to a low unemployment rate and rising wages as evidence that his administration’s economic policies are giving middle- and lower-class families a boost.

Scranton is also the hometown of former Vice President Joe Biden, who – alongside Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – is viewed as one of the two main contenders left in the Democratic race after Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her withdrawal Thursday.


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