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Following 12 straight years of declines, U.S. manufacturing employment increased last year by 136,000 jobs - the first annual increase in manufacturing employment since 1997 when 304,000 manufacturing jobs were added to the nation's payrolls. Also notice that there were more manufacturing jobs lost during the 2001 recession (almost 1.5 million) than in 2009 (almost 1.3 million jobs). And during the 2001-2003 recession and post-recession period, more jobs were lost (almost 2.9 million) than in the 2007-2009 period (almost 2.5 million).

As incessantly as we have heard about the "worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," the manufacturing losses illustrated above suggest that the 2001 recession was much worse for the manufacturing sector than during the most recent recession.

See related WSJ article about manufacturing being the "shining star of this recovery."

Source: Manufacturing Jobs on the Rise Seen as Hopeful Sign