Despite numerous claims about the decline in domestic manufacturing, the United States is doing just fine in terms of its ability to design and make things. This is the conclusion of one economics expert, who outlined his beliefs in a recent article published on the Forbes magazine website. Tim Worstall supported his opinions with some facts and statistics that counter these other claims about the state of American industry.
Although it did suffer badly during the banking crisis and related economic slowdown of nearly 10 years ago, American industrial production is back to what it was before the Great Recession. It is even higher than what it was as recently as 2000, and five times that of what many Americans accept as the peak of production in the years after World War II. Worstall believes that much of the concern expressed by American political leaders has less to do with reality and more to do with attempts to change domestic and international policies, including the imposition of trade barriers.
Federal statistics do show a definite decline in the number of Americans directly involved in manufacturing, from around 25 percent in 1970 to about 10 percent today. However, the things that are still being produced in the United States can generate higher profits and create greater prestige for the country than the production of household products or even vehicles. The sale of one big-ticket item, such as a wide-bodied jet airliner, will easily counter the profits generated by the import of thousands of consumer products. The type of products being produced today has resulted in an overall output rate that is historically high.
In addition to the items being made today, newer methods have dramatically improved the efficiency of American industry. Although China has largely assumed the production of low-value products, with much of the work involving manual labor, the United States employs robotics and advanced production techniques that merely require fewer workers. This new trend opens the door for millions of Americans to engage in other forms of employment that are less repetitive and more rewarding than working on an assembly line.
Upon a careful examination of the facts, the public and politicians in particular should consider redirecting their efforts to nurturing the powerful American manufacturing sector. They should see the importance of healthy trade with other countries and the advantages of outsourcing at least some production, and how these policies can actually make the United States richer and more dominant
Cover photo credit: Maurizio Pesce / Flickr