From a level of 17.6 million manufacturing jobs in 1998, the current 14.2 million reported in August 2006 represents a loss of 3.4 million jobs. Simultaneously the sector has experienced substantial wage decreases, according to a Sept. 20 statement released by the Economic Policy Institute.
"Employment in the sector cratered during the last recession and following jobless recovery and has failed to recover since," the Institute said.
Even as manufacturing productivity has increased over the past several years, real wages of blue-collar workers have experienced steep declines. Over the past year the average real wage is down 2.7%. Non-manager real wages were flat over the year, reported the Institute.
Looking at the trade deficit -- currently running at 6% of GDP -- which is driven "overwhelming by manufactured trade goods," the Institute said that domestic manufacturing will have to be greatly increased to balance out the trade deficit. The increased output should lead to job recovery.