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Demos president Heather McGhee argued the jobs saved in Donald Trump's deal with Carrier are not as high as they have been reported. (Screengrab) Demos president Heather McGhee argued the jobs saved in Donald Trump's deal with Carrier are not as high as they have been reported. (Screengrab)

Demos president Heather McGhee argued the jobs saved in Donald Trump's deal with Carrier are not as high as they have been reported. (Screengrab)

Allison Graves
By Allison Graves December 4, 2016

Did Donald Trump's Carrier deal actually save 'less than half' of jobs headed to Mexico?

Supporters of Donald Trump have praised the president-elect for working out a deal to keep jobs at a manufacturing plant in Indiana from being moved to Mexico.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press Dec. 4, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said the deal with Carrier, which makes heating, air conditioning and refrigerator parts, meant "more than a thousand Hoosiers have certainty in their jobs and in their futures going into this Christmas season because of the leadership of Donald Trump."

Later in the show, pundits from the left and right raised concerns that painted the deal in a less twinkling light.

National Review editor Rich Lowry said the government incentives involved were not ideal, and he doesn’t like Trump threatening to retaliate against businesses with tariffs for moves he disapproves of. Heather McGhee, president of the left-leaning think tank Demos, said the number of saved jobs is overhyped.

"Did you actually read the Carrier letter?" McGhee asked the panel. "It started out saying ‘we are pleased to inform you’ and ended up talking about all the jobs that would still be shipped overseas. The numbers I'm looking at say less than half of them are actually staying."

With so many numbers in the mix, we decided to see if McGhee’s claim had merit.

McGhee was talking about a letter related to 1,400 Carrier jobs in Indianapolis. Most jobs, but far from every job, at the Indianapolis plant ended up being saved thanks to the deal with Trump's team. The outlook worsens when you factor in that plant's job losses with another Indiana plant slated for closure and owned by Carrier's parent company. 

The making of a promise

In February, United Technologies, the parent company for Carrier Corporations, announced it would be closing an Indianapolis Carrier plant and moving its 1,400 jobs to Monterrey, Mexico.

Trump talked about the news throughout his campaign, using Carrier as an example of how trade deals like NAFTA have destroyed the manufacturing industry.

"We're not going to let Carrier leave," Trump said in Indiana, of which Pence is governor, in April. "Because say what you want, Indiana. I've been talking about Carrier now for four months, right?"

About three weeks after the general election, Carrier confirmed talks with Trump and Pence but did not elaborate.

Five days later, Trump tweeted that a deal had been struck, jobs had been saved, and his promise to Americans had been fulfilled.

The state of Indiana vowed to give the company $7 million in tax incentives over a decade, and the company agreed to invest $16 million in keeping the company in the state.

While many workers celebrated saving their jobs, free-market capitalists balked, including Trump ally and Republican Sarah Palin, who described the deal as "crony capitalism."

Lost in the jubilation was that hundreds of jobs at the Carrier plant would not be spared from export.

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On top of that, Carrier's parent company, United Technologies, said it will continue with previously announced plans to close a factory in Huntington, Ind., and move its 700 jobs to Mexico.

Behind the numbers

So how does McGhee’s statement add up? The best numbers available can be reasonably examined a couple ways.

We could not reach a spokesperson for United Technologies for comment Sunday, so we're going by reported estimates in the Washington Post, New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among others.

The first way to add up the number — which doesn’t support McGhee’s point — is by looking just at Carrier jobs. Again, more than 1,400 Carrier jobs were heading to Mexico before the incoming administration intervened.

Multiple reports put the number of saved jobs from that plant at 800 union workers, mainly those involved with building furnaces.

So that’s more than half, or 57 percent, of the estimated 1,400 jobs that were slated to be lost from the Indianapolis plant.

That’s a bit lower than the "more than 1,000 jobs" talking point we’ve heard from Pence, Trump and Carrier. According to CNNMoney, that total is inflated by factoring in 300 primarily administrative and engineering jobs held by parent company United Technologies that were not at risk of moving to Mexico.

The letter that McGhee talked about on the show was sent to employees Dec. 1. Carrier said it would move forward with its earlier plan to relocate its fan coil manufacturing lines out of the country.  

"While this announcement is good news for many, we recognize it is not good news for everyone," reads the letter. "We are moving forward with previously announced plans to relocate the fan coil manufacturing lines, with expected completion by the end of 2017."

While the letter doesn’t use specific numbers, news reports have said that the fan coil relocation will cost 600 U.S. jobs.

And there’s more to the story. The incoming administration was not able to work out a deal to prevent the closing of United Technologies' Huntington factory. So 700 of those jobs will be outsourced to Mexico.

So between the U.S. job losses at the factories in Carrier and Huntington, approximately 1,300 jobs will be moved to Mexico under the umbrella of United Technologies.

Going by the broader view, McGhee is right that less than half (or 38 percent) of the 2,100 jobs in danger of being exported actually ended up staying.

Our ruling

McGhee said that less than half of the jobs from the Carrier deal actually stayed in the United States.  

If you just count the number of jobs at the Carrier plant, which is what Trump promised to save and what McGhee referenced on the show, then her claim is not accurate. In fact, more than half of the jobs will stay in the United States because the deal is keeping approximately 800 jobs out of 1,400 at the Carrier plant.

However, her statement is correct when applied more broadly to include jobs that will be lost from the United Technologies' factory closure in Huntington, as well as the hundreds of jobs not saved in the Carrier deal. 

McGhee’s statement is partially accurate but needs clarification, so we rate the claim Half True.

Our Sources

IndyStar, "Carrier in Indy, UTEC in Huntington to move units to Mexico, costing 2,100 jobs," Feb. 12.

The Guardian, "Trump reaches deal to keep 1,000 jobs at Indiana plant from moving to Mexico," Nov. 29.

The Washington Post, "As Trump claims to have saved Carrier jobs, details are hazy," Nov. 30

The New York Times, "Trump Sealed Carrier Deal With Mix of Threat and Incentive," Dec. 1.

The Wall Street Journal, "Carrier Will Receive $7 Million in Tax Breaks to Keep Jobs in Indiana," Dec. 2.

CNN Money, "Trump didn't save as many Carrier jobs as he claimed," Dec. 2

Tweet, Rafael Sánchez

The Washington Post, "Many Trump supporters willing to let him pick and choose what promises to fulfill," Dec. 2

The Guardian, "Everything you need to know about Trump and the Indiana Carrier factory," Dec. 3

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More by Allison Graves

Did Donald Trump's Carrier deal actually save 'less than half' of jobs headed to Mexico?

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