Manufacturing Employment has been increasing since the recession officially ending in mid 2009 but it remains at historically low levels. (Click to enlarge in separate tab)
As a percentage of the Civilian Labor Force (those working and those looking for a job), there has been a decades long decline. Almost 1 in 4 employees worked in manufacturing in the 1960s. Today, the ratio is 1 in 12.
When China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, it began taking a lot of what are called “low value added” manufacturing jobs. These are jobs which do not require specialized skills or knowledge. Many rural and urban U.S. workers with high school degrees or less lost their jobs to mainly rural Chinese workers who migrated to large cities in China and staffed the recently built factories.
While employment in manufacturing has gone down, sales have climbed, enjoying positive year over year gains except for the two recessions in the 2000s.
Adjusted for inflation over the past twenty years, each manufacturing worker is producing almost twice the value of goods.
Investment in factories and production equipment, more streamlined processes and a higher skilled workforce have led to these productivity gains. Since 2006, workers have seen a 16% increase in earnings, almost as much as the 18% real productivity gains during those years.
Democratic politicians and commentators often criticize business owners and executives for taking all the profits from productivity gains by workers. In this industry, the facts simply do not support those criticisms.