Friday, May 2, 2008

US Manufacturing output -surprise to me.

It's always enlightening when an unchallenged assumption I hold about the world is found to be wrong. It creates one of those moments when you go "hmmmm".

In this case I was reading this op-ed in the New York Times by David Brooks titled "The Cognitive Revolution" when I came across this quote:

the U.S.’s share of global manufacturing output has actually increased slightly since 1980.

I read that and I paused... That can't possibly be right. Everybody just "knows" US manufacturing is dying.

So of course I started googling around and found this link reporting that real value added manufacturing in the US is at 22.4% of the world output - slightly higher than it was a decade ago. Interesting. The same paper points out however that while manufacturing output has continued to increase, manufacturing employment has continued to fall due in part to efficiency gains and technology. It takes less people to produce more stuff.

The article is really worth a read. At least I found it helpful.

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