No, U.S. Manufacturing Isn’t Really Booming

by Bill Fester on October 21, 2016

in Industries, Jobs, People

Employment in manufacturing peaked in the U.S. in June 1979, at almost 19.6 million jobs. This September, that was down to 12.3 million (these numbers are seasonally adjusted).

That fall in employment tells us a lot about today’s American political and economic life. It helps explain why regions that were heavily reliant on manufacturing have been struggling so much, why older Americans without college degrees are so cranky, why labor unions are so weak. But does it mean that American manufacturing is in decline?

An answer frequently offered by wonky economics journalists is that, no, U.S. manufacturing output has actually kept growing. A recent example, from Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times:

Because of automation, there are far fewer jobs in factories. But the value of stuff made in America reached a record high in the first quarter of 2016, even after adjusting for inflation. The present moment, in other words, is the most productive in the nation’s history.

He’s not making that up. The relevant data don’t go back as far as the jobs numbers, but here, courtesy of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, is real U.S. manufacturing output since 1997 (measured in terms of value-added).

Read the rest of this surprising article here!

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