Project Syndicate: Another reason your wages are low: it’s cheaper to hire convicts

NEW YORK (Project Syndicate) — Blaming manufacturing-job losses on low-wage foreign competition, or, increasingly, on automation has become a staple of populist politics in developed countries. Nowhere is this truer than in the United States, where President Donald Trump campaigned on the issue in 2016 and has since launched a trade war with China.

But U.S. workers have long faced another source of competition much closer to home: prison labor.

Many Americans may assume that the country’s convict-labor system is a thing of the past, especially given unflattering Western media coverage of other countries’ reliance on prison labor to produce export goods.

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