FYI — from Bill Strauss, Economic Advisor and Senior Economist with the Chicago Fed –
Midwest Economy: Is U.S. Manufacturing Disappearing? — its all about productivity. And manufacturing is doing quite well in that category, thank you very much:
Using recent history is a guide, we can look forward to an industry that will continue to produce more, contributing to a stronger U.S. economy, with manufacturing employment representing a smaller share of the overall U.S. labor market.
The manufacturing sector remains vibrant and innovative. Manufacturing output has been rising at a solid pace over time. Most of this growth, especially over the past 30 years, has been achieved by improving productivity. Of course, for some workers and towns, this increase in productivity has been a double-edged sword, since highly productive operations can achieve their output goals using fewer workers. Nonetheless, higher productivity has fostered a globally competitive U.S. manufacturing sector with the ability to produce more goods with relatively lower price increases, which has benefited U.S. households and the overall economy.
For my own take on the question of whether manufacturing is disappearing, see my earlier posting.