Tired of hearing people say that manufacturing is going downhill, Professor Thomas L. Hogan of the Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University, sets the record straight.
“The U.S. manufacturing sector produces more stuff almost every year than it did the year before,” Hogan says in a column on USA Today.“Prior to the 2008 recession, we manufactured more stuff in the United States than had ever been manufactured by any country, ever, in the history of the world. Is that decline?” Hogan points out the sector is on pace to manufacture more stuff in 2014 than we have in any year in all of U.S. history.
He does understand why people think this way.
Most Americans, including the president, have a misperception of decline because manufacturing employment has fallen in recent decades. Although it is true that the number of jobs in manufacturing has gone down, there are two reasons this change should not be thought of as "decline."
First, while the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs has fallen by almost 7.5 million jobs since its peak in 1979, this loss is modest compared to the jobs created over that time. The U.S. economy creates and loses almost 5 million jobs every month. The number of non-manufacturing jobs created in the last few months alone is more than the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs lost in the past 35 years.
Second, American workers have moved out of manufacturing and into industries where they are most needed. Yet despite having fewer workers, the manufacturing sector still keeps producing more stuff every year. Producing more stuff with less work is not decline.