08/11/2020

Where Do We Still Make Stuff in America?

The deindustrialization of the United States has been widely considered to be a major force in shaping the economy. It’s one thing to measure where decline has been greatest but where has manufacturing survived or even grown? I use Bureau of Labor Statistics data on manufacturing jobs by county for 1967 and 2014. The results were so surprising that I at first could not believe it.

In 1967 the US had 19,423,000 manufacturing jobs, 25% of an employed labor force of 76 million, while in 2014 there were 11,900,000 such jobs, constituting only 8.3 % (that is one-third of the 1967 share). Almost 12 million is still a lot of jobs, and higher productivity probably means that the sheer amount of stuff produced may not have fallen, but the role of manufacturing in employment has certainly shrunk and as we shall see, greatly relocated.

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