BUFFALO, N.Y. -- President Donald J. Trump has some advice for residents of "upper New York" who are looking for brighter job prospects: become Cheeseheads.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Wednesday, Trump said residents of "upper New York" in need of lucrative manufacturing jobs need to leave their homes behind and head for greener pastures in places such as Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado.
His comments came in an interview largely about his goal to revitalize American manufacturing and a promise made by Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to build three big manufacturing plants in the United States.
With Tiawanese electronics powerhouse Foxconn announcing on Wednesday that it will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin, Trump said it's time for people in need of jobs to move where the manufacturers are.
“You’re going to need people to work in these massive plants,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. "I’m going to start explaining to people: When you have an area that just isn’t working like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt, and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t get people, I’m going to explain, you can leave.”
The statement generated mixed reactions from local elected officials.
U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins, R-Clarence, one of Trump's staunchest supporters, said the statement is a reflection of New York's failings under Democratic rule.
“The President is delivering on his promises to put America First, oppose bad trade deals like TPP and to bring our manufacturing jobs home, yet Upstate New York will continue to lag behind because of downstate politicians like Andrew Cuomo," Collins said in a written statement. "While managing the decline of the Empire State with gimmicks like Start-Up New York, Governor Cuomo has made us the least friendly business state in the nation and should focus on real relief for small businesses and taxpayers.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camilius, who represents Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties as well as part of Oswego county said he was "disappointed" by the suggestion New Yorkers need to move.
"Elected officials at all levels should be focused on putting pro-growth policies in place," he said in a statement "We should never give up on our efforts to restore our nation's manufacturing sector, and create well-paying jobs. I love Central New York, and I will never stop my work to keep and create jobs right here in our region."
Still, there's no denying that New York's bright days of manufacturing are largely in the past. According to former Empire State Development head of Policy and Research John Bacheller, who blogs at Policy Numbers New York, there were roughly 1.2 million fewer people employed in manufacturing in the state in 2014 than there were in 1970.
However, that's the case across much of the country, with millions fewer manufacturing jobs than a couple generations ago.
2 On Your Side set out to VERIFY the manufacturing employment picture in the Buffalo area.
Data from the New York State Department of Labor show 52,800 people in the Western New York eight-county area are employed in manufacturing positions as of last month. That's the highest number since 2008.
Its 2017 Labor Market Assessment found that advanced manufacturing has created 2,700 new jobs over the past half decade, and the report estimates an additional 1,100 jobs in this sector each year for the next decade.
"Although (the manufacturing industry) is declining across the U.S., it is growing in Buffalo Niagara," the report concludes.
While manufacturing jobs make up 8.7% of the workforce across the country, in Western New York that jumps up to 11.1%.
Includes reporting from Meaghan M. McDermott with the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
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