This entire article is built on a sad misconception. I have been following for decades the great growth of US manufacturing. But it goes like this:
One plant opened, replacing a WWII era facility. The production level and amount is similar, in this case, bolts and related items, but instead of having 5,000 workers, it has a lot of computerized equipment and 350 employees.
A heavy manufacturer of engineering equipment more than doubled its capacity, but uses only about one-quarter as many workers.
Two checkers in a supermarket can handle more items and customers than a group of eight used to. The difference is scanning barcodes and computerized inventory. I have read that the employment needed to make a ton of steel is only one/tenth as much labor as it took in 1955.
The actual 2007 dollar volume of US manufacturing was approximately 2.7 times as much as it was in 1980. But the relative value in the market of such items as computer services has grown much faster, making a relative decline only.
Please, do not try to pretend that American manufacturing has declined since the 1970s. Far, far from it.
This is exactly the same pattern seen when American agriculture went from 90 percent of all jobs down to around 1 percent, while total production grew many times in value.
John D. Froelich
Upper Darby , PA
Jul 2 2009 - 3:42am