The Truth About the Great American Manufacturing Decline

Danger is when something can be stated as fact, without facts backing it up, and still be accepted by most.

Take, for example, the rampant fear that our manufacturing muscle has eroded over the years. Just yesterday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) bemoaned that this country "needs a real strategy on making things. We ought to make things in this country." Implying, of course, that we don't.

We hear these comments all the time. So often that they don't need to be questioned. We used to build things. We don't anymore. Manufacturing is dying. That's what we've come to believe.

Problem is, it's not really true.

We're making more things today than almost ever before. Even adjusted for inflation, manufacturing output is near an all-time high. In real terms, we're making more than twice as much today as we were in the early 1970s.

Why such a disconnect between perception and reality?

When people bewail manufacturing's decline, what they really mean is manufacturing employment:

Source: Federal Reserve, Bureau of Labor Statistics, author's calculations. I'll note here that some claim the government's manufacturing numbers are flawed, not accurately taking offshoring into account. BLS, the organization calculating this stuff, strongly disagrees with these claims.

There's no arguing that manufacturing jobs have been tumbling for decades. Not only are they falling, but they're falling at an increasing pace. There were more than 19 million manufacturing jobs in 1980. Today, there are a little more than 11 million. Those numbers looks far worse adjusted for population growth. The decline in manufacturing employment is real. It's bad. And it's getting worse.

So there's another disconnect. Why is manufacturing output so strong while manufacturing employment so frail?

One answer is productivity.

As a 2004 Congressional Budget Office report points out, "Since 1979, the productivity of manufacturing workers has grown at an average annual rate of 3.3 percent, significantly faster than the 2.0 percent growth of labor productivity in the nonfarm business sector overall." It's even faster more recently. Manufacturing productivity surged 4% annually during the 1990s. Everything else averaged half that much.

Simply put, manufacturers have grown incredibly efficient over the past several decades. They're able to build the same amount of stuff with far fewer people.

Take the auto industry. In 1990, the average American auto worker's share of total auto production was 7.15 vehicles per year. By 2010, each worker was producing 11.2 vehicles annually. That's a staggering jump in efficiency, and it means fewer auto workers are needed today than 20 years ago. Now, the auto industry is one sector where domestic output truly has fallen, as Ford (NYSE: F  ) and General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) lose market share to foreign imports. But driving the decline in auto jobs isn't just the oft-chanted devil of offshoring. It's productivity, as manufacturers invest in technology that limits the need for warm bodies on the factory floor.

What got me thinking about this topic was a blog post in The New York Times, where business owner Paul Downs sums up the situation nicely:

Over the last 25 years, my own shop has undergone an incredible transformation as we have introduced technology into the office and shop floor. Our robot does much of the dangerous cutting. We're now making twice the amount of product per person that we were five years ago.

And these stories aren't limited to manufacturing. Since 2007, the New York Stock Exchange has axed 1,000 jobs. Don't blame the stock market for that -- volume over the past year is up almost 40% over 2007 levels. Blame technology.

Don't fear the reaper
As tragic as the loss in manufacturing jobs has been for many, this is how the economy is supposed to work over time. Technology improves, businesses find ways to do things with fewer people, and the world goes on -- changed, but better. In 1900, 44% of all jobs were in agriculture. Tremendous improvements in farm productivity pushed that number to 2.4% by 2000. We could, as we do with manufacturing jobs, become nostalgic about the days when farm jobs were aplenty. Don't. Those who would have once plowed fields now work in more productive endeavors -- programming computers, curing cancer, building roads, what have you. We don't want those farm jobs back. A perfect hell is going back to a world where half our labor is devoted to wielding a hoe. Think of manufacturing jobs the same way.  

An even better example comes from 18th-century economic god Adam Smith, who once wrote about the production of metal pins: "One man draws out the wire, another straightens it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it." Today, a machine does it all, and those five people work elsewhere. Maybe designing machines that make pins.

The question now is where laid-off manufacturing workers will go next. We already know to an extent: IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) , Dell, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , and Intel (NYSE: INTC  ) collectively employ more than 1.1 million people, up from almost none a half-century ago. That trend will continue, and them some. Where else? Health care. Clean energy. Consulting. Who knows where else they'll go. All we know is it probably won't be where they are today. Technological change will see to it. And that's a good thing.

Check back every Tuesday and Friday for Morgan Housel's columns on finance and economics.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel owns shares of Microsoft. General Motors, Intel, and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Ford Motor is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor choice. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Ford Motor, International Business Machines, Microsoft, and Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 11:22 AM, TheDumbMoney wrote:

    Great, though on my screen your right margin is all screwed up and cut of, just FYI.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 11:58 AM, jgamlieli wrote:

    Very valid points about the real facts regarding manufacturing. However, there is one point that you "missed" ....What politicians are bemoaning is the loss of jobs which require no more then a high school diploma. This is the real issue facing our country, the lack of as suffiently educated workforce to take up those new jobs at intel, microsoft, google, etc. While it casn be argued that the number of college educated americans has already risen increasingly over the last century, many of them are not choosing engineering, math, science, which will offer them better job prospects in the years to come. You can't design the factory machine which took your father's job, unless you choose to study engineering, etc. I wish ALL politicians will wake up to this fact and have that "straight talk" with their constituents. Our president has tried to do that, but he is sometimes drowned out by the voices who would rather bicker about evolution vs. creationisms instead about worrying about their child's math scores

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 12:35 PM, dony524 wrote:

    Yeah, I totally agree with jgam. Having worked in the headhunting industry (hiring for specific skills for large companies), the large corps only want people who have exactly the skills that the last guy had, and more. Perhaps google or facebook allows people to use more creativity, but if you're not a programmer who has already proven yourself, for example, they're not going to hire you and give freedom...train you? you wish!

    Each employee is just a cog now, even more than before. If you can't perform, they look for a replacement and fire you. Hands clean. The "knowledge industry" is perhaps the most closed industry that has ever been created. It puts lots of wealth in the hands of a few. We are all screwed until we go back to basics, but that will never happen. ipad, iphone, smart phone, tablet, electric car....don't these sound familiar? Are these top products on your wish list? Well, they require a new breed of knowledge workers to produce them. Are you showing your next generation how to create something for the world on a daily basis instead of just sitting down and consuming? There's no going back. The wisest ones will not nag their kids. They will find ways to attract their kids to get into the right industries and hang out with the right people...at a VERY early stage in life. Otherwise, there will be long line ups at the fast food restaurants for part time jobs in the foreseeable future. Best luck to us all, we'll need it.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 12:37 PM, zman58 wrote:

    Thank you for an interesting article. I also am having a problem seeing the right most margin in the article. The graphics on the right cover the text of the article slightly--about one word or so. I am using Firefox 3.6.13 on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Linux).

    ...I also see the same problem while running IE on Windows XP Pro.

    If you ran with Linux, you might not be so sure about recommending Microsoft as an "inside value". I wouldn't touch their stock. How many years of punishment will those MSFT investors with long positions take before they finally get fed up and decide to dump it?

    The new innovation is in the community as in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and the GPL--a new way to do software business--true competition. Efficiencies, value, power and freedom far beyond what could have been imagined years ago. Linux is a great example of this in action.

    If you don't believe me, then just ask Google who uses Linux exclusively to provide their powerful million-processor indexing and search engine--they know. You could ask Watson also--he runs on Linux! ---The same technology I have on my home desktop running Linux.

    Single source over-priced service, customer lock-in, shady business and political tactics is out; these are some of the reasons MSFT will continue to languish. They have been exposed by some of the very technologies they helped to create. ...It is just too hard to hide the truth anymore because information moves at light-speed on the Internet.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 12:37 PM, boucher101 wrote:

    What needs to be measured here is the increase in international manufacturing output. The US output may have grown at a 3.3% annual, but it is probably much less than that experienced by overseas manufacturing counterparts, meaning that we have a much smaller piece of the pie. The computer I'm using now was assembled in China. Many of the chips and boards were manufactured in Taiwan, Korea, China, or Japan. My cellphone was made in China. If we are including clothing as something manufactured, then I'll add that my shirt was made in Thailand and my shoes in Vietnam. By the way, the brands of all these products I mentioned are American. And it seems that China would not have so many of our American dollars if we weren't paying them for the significant manufacturing services they are providing for US companies.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 2:54 PM, SpaceVegetable wrote:

    I agree with jgamlieli, too. I am an engineer (EE) who does mostly software work, and right now, I'm being flooded with job openings. I disagree slightly with dony524, however. Right now, demand in software engineering is so high that I think employers are going to be more willing to train. Yes, they're still looking for experience, but the market is starting to open up in ways I haven't seen in years.

    We do need to start graduating more math and science people in this country. Part of the problem is that these areas are not "cool." Kids are bombarded with cultural images from television where math and science people are socially-inept nerds with nothing to contribute to their lives except humor. Who want to be the butt of jokes? Instead, television glorifies people who are dumb and proudly brag about not being able to "do math."

    The rest of the problem is the dumbing down of education. I remember being annoyed when I heard that my high school had eliminated some of the higher-level classes because such divisions of students into levels of ability were "elitist." So, they end up shortchanging the brightest students who could make the most difference in the world. We need to toughen up educational requirements and not push everyone toward being mediocre.

    I'd like to see financial incentives for people to study science and engineering in college. Perhaps forgiveness for some % of student loans or bigger grants for those who choose these challenging fields.

    I remember having a discussion with some friends back in college when we realized that we spend more time just attending various physics and chemistry labs than some liberal arts students spent in class all week. It was a difficult curriculum, but now I get to reap the benefits. Like everything else, hard work and sacrifice can really pay off. It's too bad there are so many people who still want something for nothing.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 2:57 PM, jharchut wrote:

    I think the education comments are valid and I often wonder why its the first to be cut whenever so called tough decisions have to be made. Before you cut your countries future maybe you should consider the smaller dollar amounts being doled out to political supporters (pork). after all 100,000 1 million dollar cuts adds up. anyway back to this article. Hew left out one other thing as to why it is so easy to believe. Pick up one of your child's toys, your phone, almost everything we use on a daily basis and what don't you see. You don't see Made In USA anymore.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 3:30 PM, medicalquack wrote:

    What we need is more intelligence in lawmaking. They don't get this and I suggest IBM take Watson over there and install the super computer so those folks can become participants in technology and even the luddites can participate with speech recognition.

    The could query their own government agencies for data like the GAO and anything else out there for that matter and they could all see the same thing at the same time. They are out of the loop when seeing where jobs and money is going and we need to have them dump their 8 tracks soon!

    http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2011/02/where-should-watson-g...

    They need to create laws that govern technology and help the SEC and FDA for goodness sakes and we have the blind leading the blind here. We seem to all be investing in algorithms in the US (intangibles) versus tangibles and those need to come from somewhere. We need a better balance so investments can once again start creating wealth and not more Facebook junkies that stay digitally illiterate for the most part by only entertaining themselves.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 7:39 PM, jimmy4040 wrote:

    "We're making more things today than almost ever before. Even adjusted for inflation, manufacturing output is near an all-time high. In real terms, we're making more than twice as much today as we were in the early 1970s"

    That statement is simply not true. We are making much larger things that cost much more, but we are manufacturing far less than ever. In things like aircraft and farm machinery we lead the world, but realtively little of what is actually used on an everyday basis in your home is amde inthis country.

    As a rule of thumb, if it's made of wood, pressed board or glass, American hands probably touched it. Otherwise, the odds are against it. While you cite many industries where manufuacturing jobs have gone down due to increased productivity , overall world manufuacturing jobs have INCREASED in the last 40-50 years, we just have an ever declining share of those jobs.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2011, at 8:55 PM, Thaeger wrote:

    I agree completely about "sending jobs overseas" generally being an overstated problem used to get people riled up. However, it is a legitimate trend--one that our one-sided trade policies have contributed for decades.

    To quote someone brighter than myself...

    "Let's put it this way. Many countries have taxes on imports from the US, which encourage their companies get their materials locally and keep the currency in their own country. Meanwhile, the US has dropped its tariffs to the floor. So while US companies are encouraged to do their spending outside of the country, other countries are encouraged to do their trading inside their own countries. Who's going to buy from the US, then? No one, and that's why 80% of our GDP is the Services industry."

    (An interesting article on this perspective: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/JubaksJournal... )

    ----

    On the subject of increasing productivity (and generally stagnant real wages):

    Let's say a company has 10 workers devoted to making sprockets, and each worker produces 10 sprockets an hour. Now let's say you introduce some new machinery, a more streamlined process, or whatever, so that they were making 20/hour without needing to work harder or learn new skills. Obviously five of the workers are no longer needed, so after letting them go, would you...:

    A) Increase the compensation of the remaining five workers, since they're now adding twice as much value to the company as they were before.

    B) Keep their compensation the same, since they're not working any harder, or more skilled.

    C) Cut their compensation, since if they don't want to work for less, there's 5 guys lined up behind them that would.

    (Just food for thought...obviously this is the 'Union POV' vs. 'normal person POV' vs. 'Corporate POV,' and there is no 'right' answer.)

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2011, at 12:35 AM, sethdye01 wrote:

    I don’t believe it is logical to insinuate that laid-off manufacturing workers will relocate into technology based companies. Most employees at manufacturing companies do not have the skill set to be implemented into the companies mentioned. Most will end up being underemployed and receive a reduced wage. The government and corporations are in denial about the end result of permanent layoffs.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2011, at 10:12 PM, ilovesumm wrote:

    Although there are some things made in the USA , many are not. A country cannot flourish if its trade deficit is astronomical.

    The reason China is growing just like Japan did 200 years ago is because they are manufacturing for the world.

  • Report this Comment On February 28, 2011, at 1:59 AM, Glycomix wrote:

    Sir:

    The Wikipdeia article on the"Economy of the US" presents information that suggests that manufacturing employment has evaporated from the US.

    The US leads the world in airplane manufacturing: companies such as Boeing, Cessna , Lockheed Martin , and General Dynamics produce a vast majority of the world's civilian and military aircraft.

    " Main industries include motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, and mining. A total of 3.2 million – one in six U.S. factory jobs – have disappeared since the start of 2000.[USA today]

    "The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy has experienced substantial job losses over the past several years. In January 2004, the number of such jobs stood at 14.3 million, down by 3.0 million jobs, or 17.5 percent, since July 2000 and about 5.2 million since the historical peak in 1979. Employment in manufacturing was its lowest since July 1950"

    The US is open to Chinese manufacturing, but the opposite is not true. We can't sell there. Their government won't even allow their currency to be exported. The best thing that the US could do with China is to treat them as the EU does. They won't allow their manufacturers to move to China. The Chinese position themselves to steal whatever you produce: like the manufacturers of the latest US Gene Sequencing machines and of Qualcomm's intellectual capital.

    The biggest export that the US has is waste paper sold to Chinese gathered by Chinese companies in the US.

    CEO Paul Jacobs reported several times that they don't like to manufacture in the US. Qcom has something like 1400 patents, Jacobs said "I'll have a Fab (factory) build the product in Taiwan or China". In Feb 2011, Jacobs said that he's building his Atheros/Qualcom manufacturing plant in Taiwan. http://blogs.forbes.com/ericsavitz/2011/01/05/interview-qual...

    DNA sequencer Illumina developed its ideas at Cornell, but manufactures its faster, state-of-the-art gene sequencers in factories in China.

    The only way that American manufacturers can compete with China is to build these automated factories. There are a few manufacturers that export, but most of them The only manufacturers that still exist in the US are a few Chemical manufacturers like Dupont and Dow.

    Apple has 4,000 employees in the US and 40,000 in China. With its markup and the increasing fuel costs in transporting, it could manufacture its smart-phones in the US, but doesn't.

    The US trade deficit in 2010 was around $490B. The top US exports are agricultural. products. The United States controls almost half of world grain exports.[91]. .http://www.i-sis.org.uk/TFBE.php

    Civilian Aircraft, computer chips and automobiles.http://www.worldsrichestcountries.com/top_us_exports.html

    The percent of US non-oil manufacturing climbed from 60% to 80% 'made in China'.. http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/international_picture_...

    What might the US do as a country?

    1. Study the trade policies of the most successful exporting countries. Belgium and Holland are in the top 10 exporting countries per capita. Why? Perhaps someone from the Motley fool might investigate the difference between their trade policies and those of their neighbors such as France and England?

    2. The US should explore ways to increase manufacturing and exports by giving a major cuts in taxes to exporters based upon the percentage and value of their exports. Secondly manufacturers who product high-value products in the US should be given a tax break depending on what % of the product was made in the USA.

    3. To increase productivity and employment, the US should re-establish the section 179 exclusion to quickly expense business investments and cut employment payment to 8 weeks as it was until the Democrats increased unemployment insurance to 3 years, producing an incentive to avoiding working.

    4. Establish cooperative relationships between manufacturers and colleges

    - to help American Businesses become more productive at lower costs,

    - to invent useful products for export,

    - to establish apprenticeships for high school students planning to work in industry,

    - to teach entrepreneurship,with an integration of business plans, financing, accounting and marketing so that fewer than 10% of new companies fail instead of 95%.

    3. The US will run out of oil in 10 years if we don't drill in Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico. Why is it OK for Obama to loan Mexico billions to explore for oil but prevent American oil companies from doing the same only a few hundred miles away?

    The US needs an inexpensive pure-ethanol automobile and an increase in research on converting crops like switch-grass to ethanol and a withdrawal of incentives for crops that have a low ratio of fuel produced/ fuel used that is less than 2.

  • Report this Comment On February 28, 2011, at 2:01 AM, Glycomix wrote:

    Please remove the advertising from wrewtetre and hmhn544.

  • Report this Comment On February 28, 2011, at 1:29 PM, otd365 wrote:

    The rorschach charts used to invoke a response about production gains are interesting, but are the wrong response to the inkblots. The worlds problem is not supply, it is distribution. We will never solve the problems happening everywhere by arguing over a bone picked clean by a oversupply of wiling, but under educated workers. What would be the proper focus for discussion is how can we modify the means of earnings the necessary coin to fully enjoy this worldwide supply.

  • Report this Comment On February 28, 2011, at 4:16 PM, FutureMonkey wrote:

    Impressed by the thoughtful, cogent, and respectful conversation about an emotional and controversial topic. Nicely done Morgan and commenters.

    Tough to look at the job's numbers decline relative to manufacturing production and see an easy or appropriate solution for employment growth without significant change in sector. Retraining is tough -- hard to go from installing dry wall to operating an MRI overnight. The changes are happening faster than many can adapt.

  • Report this Comment On February 28, 2011, at 10:33 PM, AdamFromPA wrote:

    Ill give you credit for adjusting for inflation, but wouldn't it make more sense to measure manufacturing output in relation to GDP, since population growth alone is enough to explain why we're manufacturing more than in the 1970s?

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2011, at 11:01 AM, rhutmacher wrote:

    I live in an area heavy in manufacturing, it is nice to see others discuss the topic logically without all of the emotions. Keep up the econ articles Morgan, I've been enjoying them.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2011, at 2:28 PM, Nordkyn3 wrote:

    Sure is nice to hear we manufacture so much in the US today.

    It does not seem to be true for consumer goods, that air compressor I just bought at Menard's came from China, those leather gloves from Pakistan and so on. When I go to Target, Oops, just had to answer my Tawain made cell phone, where was I, oh yes, going to Walmart or K-Mart, seems its all made somewhere else. I'm from the Midwest, we just lost a Polaris factory to Mexico.

    What can I say, with no industrial policy except

    anything goes, it seems there are many things we could just as well be making in the US. Good for corporate profits, bad for creating workers to buy this stuff.

    Remember- no plan is a plan, its a plan to let someone else decide.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2011, at 3:23 AM, pesjim wrote:

    Go to the Home Depot tool section . Look for american power tools - lost cause. Skil 77 saw, an american icon now made in China. But the price did not drop. Milwaukee Electric drills, another U.S.masterpiece, made in China - same price.No Social Security contributions. A high school ed is adequate to assemble these tools -DO IT HERE.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2011, at 4:09 AM, koolkrissy wrote:

    Not everyone can be another Bill Gates. Not everyone is the next Clarence Darrow. Not everyone is the next Albert Einstein. We are a collection of all kinds of people. Some of us are machinists. Some of us are IT people. Some of us are teachers. Some of us are mechanics. Some of us are people who can assemble things. Some of us are people who love to sew things. Like one of the prior people pointed out.....what can we pick up in the stores anymore than state "Made in the USA." Very little. That is why we are in such trouble. The bulk of our manufacturing jobs are located in other countries. Mostly in SE Asia. Wake up America. 42,000 plus factories have closed in this country over the past 10 years or so. Do you realize how many jobs were lost? Do you realize that most of those jobs are now being held by people who are not Americans in foreign lands, but the companies are still American companies? Do you think that American shareholders of these companies are reaping the bulk of the profits from the "change of venue" of these jobs. Jobs which now cost American companies $1 an hour instead of $20 an hour. The CEO's, Presidents and VP's of these companies are now part of the "super rich" in this country. It is time for American to wake up. A good share of our debt problems in Washington are due to the fact that the income tax base is trillions of $$ short because of all the lost manufacturing jobs to other countries. NAFTA does not work for most Americans. I believe I read that about 5% of Americans now own or control about 90% of American wealth and real assets. That was not the case 25 years ago or even 10 to 15 years ago. Until we require American companies to pay Americans to work in American factories, we will continue to see our standard of living diminish for all but the top 5 to 10% of Americans.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2011, at 5:21 AM, Thaeger wrote:

    @koolkrissy

    -The point of the article is that not all the jobs went overseas--many of them just disappear as technology improves and companies can make more stuff with fewer workers.

    -The easiest way to encourage companies to spend money locally is to tax imports (like pretty much every other country in the world), so that the cost of manufacturing overseas is comparable to making it locally. (there's been a couple of good comments about this).

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2011, at 7:50 PM, buddylee59 wrote:

    Interesting article. I don't share the author's opinion that displaced factory workers will become health workers, green energy workers, and consultants. The housing crunch has destroyed the largest remaining blue collar job market (construction), and our biggest challenge is employing everyone who isn't an engineer.

    American workers are the most productive in the world, but they have also become too expensive. The offshoring of unskilled manufacturing jobs is undeniable, and there are many strategies we could employ to ameliorate its effects. Some suggestions:

    1. Cut taxes to US corporations on both domestic and international profits, and provide tax breaks for foreign corporations willing to build manufacturing facilities in regions particularly hard-hit by globalization;

    2. Explore aggressive reform of existing local and Federal regulations which hamstring American manufacturing's competitiveness;

    3. Apply a more realistic tariff and duty regimen on all imports. By more realistic, I mean seek to establish a balance on import/export costs that more accurately reflects the US trade relationship with each nation.

    I believe these steps will enhance American manufacturers' competitive position by enabling the establishment of businesses in this sector that are currently not competitive in the global marketplace.

    I believe it is imprudent to cede the vast majority of the manufacturing pie to other nations. There has never in the history of the world been a more prosperity-generating employer than the American private sector . It is true that technological innovation has been a prime mover in its success, and should by all means continue to be so. But to dismiss the value of the American blue collar labor force by artificially creating the conditions that facilitate its rush to obsolescence serves no worthy purpose.

    It's only progress if you're moving forward; America's blue collar workforce has been led in circles for 50 years. Let American business loose on the world, and there will be plenty of blue collar jobs in the US.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2011, at 9:02 PM, himagain2 wrote:

    As a wanderer of the world most of my working life, there wasn't a lot to be impressed by in "the USA Way".

    You people should have travelled more when you had the chance, 30 years ago. Now it's too late.

    I keep reading "Comments" sections from many sources in the Cyberbog and most can only make one despair of the untutored future.

    Sometimes there is a bright spark or two and this particular website is one of those rare ones.

    Comments are usually concise and more importantly: intelligent offerings.

    You were basically suckered. And nobody understands that better than a well-travelled Australian......

    All of your local efforts are for the benefit of our actual Owners - and they are European-based, or more precisely German.

    That's where your money/power went. Out via the Feds. Now that you are poor, there is nowhere to go except to wake up, close the doors and become self-sufficient.

    Oh, but that would (will?) be so very painful.

    20-30% of your labour force unemployed/unemployAble, the sickest population on the planet, thanks to a totally foreign-owned and driven pharma/medico industry and a rapidly aging population who have been systematically robbed of their retirement savings.

    Don't complain about them, people, the subsidised incredibly cheap imports are all that has stopped food/clothing rioting in your streets. You can't compete with them.

    You can't go back.

    You need a new paradigm.

    -----------------------------------

    Sadly, at this point, I can contribute nothing toward a solution that isn't like the "elephant" in the room.

    I see very bright minds contributing here, with many,many good suggestions, but until the elephant is removed.....................

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2011, at 9:46 PM, ds10 wrote:

    No doubt about it, the manufacturing of electronic equipment has left our shores. No TV sets, for example, are built in the US. They are assembled in the far east. The reason is clear: labor cost. It is cheaper to build overseas.

    But a distinction has been missed in the above discussions: the difference between building and designing. The DESIGN of the integrated circuits ("chips") and the DESIGN of the circuitry in which these chips are embedded require years of study.

    This is where the hard work comes into play: learning the engineering skills to accomplish good design.

    And engineering education is still accomplished primarily in this country.

    Once the design of the circuitry is finished, then

    the product can be built offshore: a minimum of education and training is required to BUILD a TV set. The building is the easy part---the design

    of the circuitry is where the brainpower and extensive training come into play. And this country still excels in engineering design!

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2011, at 7:42 AM, slightedgeup wrote:

    The real issue is about the trade deficit. It is not about whether US productivity has improved over the past 50 years, it is about whether the US is exporting more goods to other countries than it is importing. I think we all know the answer to this. The US operates in a huge trade deficit, which has continued to grow over the last 20 years.

    When any individual, or country, buys more than they sell, it becomes very difficult to prosper or to create additional jobs. In fact, this lack of economic /GDP growth often leads to a federal budget deficits of >90%, which is exactly where the US currently finds itself.

    Countries operating at a trade surplus (i.e. China) have no national debt, but instead are investing 900 billion dollars into the US economy by buying US treasury bonds. Or at least they were, until the dollar has weakened to the point where they are now investing elsewhere.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2011, at 1:39 PM, MrSphincter wrote:

    The article is semi correct. There have been technology strides in manufacturing thus reducing jobs, however they are largely disappearing due to overseas competition.

    Had US manufacturing invested more heavily in robotic equipment rather than squeezing labor to accomplish higher output we wouldn't have fallen behind.

    Conversely, when you have an abundance of cheap labor, zero regulatory mandates and are able to leverage your government as your only source of information/ dis-information, you are going to dominate the world markets.

    How else could China market a two pound bag of dried Mexican chili's in Walmart for less than two bucks?

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2011, at 2:08 PM, Howard1ii wrote:

    I was with you until that last paragraph. How many of those 1.1 million jobs are here in the U.S.? Speaking from experience, I know IBM grew it's IBM-India organization by about 60,000 in the last 5 to 10 years. Also, huge growth in Brazil, so the addition of 1.1 million could be a little mis-leading. Plus, IBM is a serial acquirer, how many of these "new" jobs, were from acquisitions. I think the PriceWaterhouse acquisition alone added about 20,000.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2011, at 3:44 PM, Thaeger wrote:

    MrSphincter wrote "How else could China market a two pound bag of dried Mexican chili's in Walmart for less than two bucks?"

    By manipulating their currency to keep it artificially low, which makes their products very cheap and competitive in the global market.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2011, at 7:44 PM, ershler wrote:

    I worked (and was laid off) at a manufacturing plant during a summer that has since moved to Mexico and currently work as a mechanical engineer so I have some personal experience with this topic.

    First, working on an assembly line sucks and it is difficult to pay Americans enough to do it and still remain competitive. If you don't believe me ask a plant manager or shift supervisor. A lot of this has to do with the cost-of-living in the US vs other countries. Even if US companies built everything in the US they would still need to compete against foreign companies. Reading the comments above you would believe there would be a huge market for items made in the US but if there was the companies wouldn't have moved. There are some issues with international tax laws and trade policies that could help US manufacturing but if people are not willing to spend their money on something why do they want the government to try to fix it. It is off the subject, but I feel the same way about Wal-Mart. If you don't want one in your community don't shop at it and encourage other not to.

    Why is it when China lowers its currency they are doing it do destroy American manufacturing and when the US does it we are going to destroy the entire American economy. It seems to me if the yuan is pegged to the dollar we should do it until China can't handle it since they already have a problem with inflation and this will make worse.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2011, at 9:27 PM, Chippy55 wrote:

    Ar you kidding me?? "Most people believe the lies that the Liberal Media spews forth every night?? That American manufacturing jobs are gone? In whose world? Just the lying Liberal media. American car manufacturers have plants overseas, as do American food manufacturers, and all other industries. Why? Because places like Heinz are running at full capacity 24/7, and it makes more sense to build ADDITIONAL PLANTS overseas, rather than pay the freight on goods to be shipped overseas.

    This is just more left wing whining by the drive-by media, ABC< CBS< NBC< MSNBC< and CNN. Every single day they "throw something against the wall' and see if it sticks.

    Tomorrow it's the global warming lie.

    Next week it's back to the population explosion.

    The week after that, its coffee is bad for you.

    Then, coffee's ok, but too much red meat is bad.

    IT"S THE LIBERAL DRIVE_BY MEDIA!

    Notice how they don't say a peep about sky-rocketing gasoline prices? Because Hussein Obama is on record as saying, " I don't have a problem with $5 a gallon gasoline, just that IT WENT UP TOO FAST. Are you kidding me? The reason is that Hussein Obama and his administration have been BUYING UP LAND, so it can't be drilled on.

    Hussein Obama wants the U.S. to be dependent on foreign oil. The U.S. has proven reserves of 2 trillion barrels! Hussein Obama would rather have it shipped through radical Muslim countries, through the volatile Middle East, and from Venezuela, and meanwhile Mexico, China, the UK, and Russia are 12 miles off our coast, pumping millions of barrels a day. \

    And guess what folks, the Russinas LOVE HIGH OIL PRICES because all they make is Vodka, the whole country is corrupt, and they make money off HIGH OIL PRICES because their refineries ship it to Europe, which is now paying $10 a gallon for gasoline!

    Me too, I LOVE HIGH OIL PRICES because I only drive 3,000 miles a year, ha ha. All you lefties who fell for Hussein obama and his cigarette tax (ha ha, I don't smoke) and his high gasoline prices can just sit there and say, "I voted for him, I deserve this". Ha ha, Liberals.

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