April 05, 2017

Manufacturing Renaissance?

Often you hear the lament that Americans no longer make anything, and jobs that once paid well have moved overseas. We yearn for the past glory of U.S. industry, and look to politicians who promise to “bring back” those jobs.

But what is the real state of manufacturing in the U.S. It is true that the sector employs fewer people than in the past. Its share of the workforce fell from nearly 25 percent in 1960 to less than 10 percent in recent years.

At the same time, we are still a manufacturing powerhouse in terms of the total value of our products. The sector accounts for approximately 12 percent of our gross domestic product, or nearly $2.2 trillion. Since the economy began to recover from the Great Recession, there was even some optimism that manufacturing would enjoy a renaissance.

Nevertheless, manufacturing has only added 800,000 jobs since the depths of the recession, for a total of 12.3 million. Was the manufacturing renaissance overblown? Are we ever going to bring back manufacturing jobs? Or is this just part of the reality of the 21st century? We’re capable of making more with fewer people thanks to technological innovations.

Scott Nystrom, a senior consultant from FTI Consulting, gave a guest webinar presentation on the economic impacts of a manufacturing renaissance. Please check out a recording of the webinar.