Friday, July 15, 2011

Is Manufacturing Dead in America?

Quick--answer these two questions: 1) What country is the #1 manufacturer in the world?
(HINT: I got this answer wrong.) 2) Has the manufacturing output of the USA increased or decreased in the last 30 years? (I got this wrong too.)

David L. Bahnsen, Senior Vice President of The Bahnsen Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, was recently asked about manufacturing in the US. Here is his reply.
What can you tell us about the state of manufacturing in the United States?

9 out of 10 times when I ask people if manufacturing is dead in America, they tell me that it is. So I suppose it will be a shock to people to find out that the United States is STILL the #1 manufacturer in the world - producing 21% of all goods (4). That percentage is the same that it was thirty years ago. But here is what I really want to share: There are 23% less employees in the manufacturing sector here in the states than there were thirty years ago, YET manufacturing output is 2.5 times higher than it was thirty years ago (4). So the point of this really can not be missed: Productive output has exploded, yet with significantly less people in the labor force. That is the point of technology and progress, and we can not fail to appreciate what it means for our economy and our society. There is no point in resisting it - adapting to it is the need of the hour.

In English: The United States remains the top manufacturer in the world, and after those thirty years of employee downsizing and factory closings, we are as competitive as ever, and much more productive than ever.
ABC News is currently featuring a on-going summer segment on neighbors gathering to display items they own that were made in America. The idea is to highlight how jobs can be created by manufacturing things in the US. I commend ABC News for their efforts. I would love to see more manufacturing jobs created here. But there are two questions I have. First, if the point of technology and progress is to make more stuff with fewer employees, what kind of jobs should be created to "fill the void"? Second, do really need to make more and more stuff?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting this on paper~! I'm so sick of hearing people in this country say "America doesn't make anything anymore." I lived in China for more than 6 years and during that time, I inspected hundreds of factories and what shocked me is the amount of American made manufacturing equipment in those factories. Not to mention the American made heavy equipment that was used to build those factories. To your point, Americans need to stop looking backwards at what is perceived as lost and begin focusing on what there is to gain. Without a long term focus on education in this country, we as Americans will cede the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow. Fill the void with high paying jobs in Biotech / Biomedical and energy sectors. Fill it by building a 21st infrastructure in this country, both physical and virtual. Fill the void by maintaining our status as the innovation engine of the world and let's stop looking backwards at the jobs we have evolved beyond as a national economy!