US manufacturing output may well attain new highs, but manufacturing employment probably won’t.
After World War II, US industry and manufacturing reigned supreme. Most other countries’ industrial infrastructure had been destroyed and their economies were in ruins. Detroit and its car companies were emblematic of the time. General Motors was the world’s largest corporation, the big three dominated the US and many export markets, workers in their unionized workforces made wages that could sustain a family in middle class comfort, and Detroit was the third largest American city. This was the halcyon period that commentators invoke when they talk of a “rebirth” of US factories and restoration of manufacturing jobs.
But can there be a rebirth of something that never died? While the number of manufacturing jobs has been in a long-term decline, the output of manufactured products has not. U.S. factories produce twice as many goods as they did…
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