Manufacturing output is higher today than at any point in US history. It’s remarkable, but it’s a fact. Many Americans think nothing is made in the USA anymore and there is a good reason that they think that way. Many of the consumer goods with which we come in contact day in and day out are definitely not made here anymore.
Last month, the Washington Times ran an excellent series of four articles about today’s manufacturing. We are blogging on all four of them, starting today. In his first article, author Jeffrey Sparshott looked into some of the prominent consumer goods companies that have gone by the board. He focuses especially on “sunset industries”, such as television manufacturing, which as recently as 1989 had 3,500 employees in the U.S. Now there are virtually none and the production has gone overseas. He notes that foreign goods now account for about one-third of the manufactured products consumed domestically, up from 15 percent in 1982.
Not all of U.S. manufacturing is in decline. He writes, “other industries that make products Americans seldom see in stores, such as machine shops and medical equipment manufacturers, have increased production and added employees in recent years.” He interviewed NAM chief economist Dave Huether for the article, who points out that manufacturing is a “mosaic” and that it is hard to paint all sectors with the same brush.
There are a wide range of public policy steps that can be taken to bolster US manufacturing. You have read about many of them right on this blog. But too many public officials either take manufacturing for granted and think it can survive more and more taxes and more and more regulation. Or else they are beholden to other special interests who they put first when they vote. We’ll have more on the Washington Times series in the next few days. Be sure and click on the link above to read Sparshott’s first article. Kudos to the newspaper for putting these issues front and center.
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